Saving for a Stress-Free Holiday

August 3rd, 2017 by Bunch & Brock

During the dog days of summer, when the sun hangs in the sky and the air is hot enough to make the paint peel, our thoughts naturally turn to things like floating lazily on a boat in the water, a drink so cold drops of water form on the glass, a breeze at sunset. For most of us, our thoughts don’t go further than sundown, when the air cools and the crickets begin chirping; five months in the future seems an eternity away. But despite our natural inclinations, according to finance experts, now is the right time to begin preparing for the holidays, and especially for holiday spending. Few experts know finance like the folks at Forbes, and they have a few tips to prepare for holiday spending.

Tips to Get a Jump on the Holidays

First, plan a budget. Look to previous holidays and see what sorts of activities you’ve participated in, who is on your gift list and what kind of extras always get thrown into the mix. Forbes suggest looking at receipts and charge slips from previous years. This will give you a ball-park estimate of what you can expect to spend.

Next, Forbes suggests opening a holiday spending account. This will let you budget and set money aside to prepare for the upcoming events. By opening an account early, the amount you need to put in to meet your budget each month will be smaller than if you start in January. Experts stress, though, not to mix accounts. For example, keep emergency funds and holiday funds separate.

After you know how much money you plan to spend and create a realistic budget and way to save it, categorize what you plan to spend your money on. Perhaps if hosting a party, the entertainment budget should get more funds; if traveling, a specific amount of money needs to be set aside for airfare and other travel expenses.

When this is finished, recheck and find the hidden expenses. Realistically, there are always expenses that sneak up on you. Consider the costs of small gifts for acquaintances, perhaps an office Christmas party or other expenses. Again, checking last year’s expenses will help tremendously.

Things become more difficult on the next step: cut the expenses on one habitual expense. Forbes suggests, “There’s always room to scale back your budget a bit more.” Habitual expenses add up – whether it’s that final and unnecessary item in the cart at the grocery or something similar, these costs add up.

Next, start shopping. Find seasonal sales. Purchase items now, when they are cheaper, instead of when the items are more in demand and prices go up.

When you’re shopping, don’t forget to use your rewards cards. Many stores offer points for purchases, and if you’ve reached a point total that allows you to exchange points for goods, do so.

Finally, track your to-do list. You’ve planned it out, now simply check off the items as they are finished. If you’ve done it right, your budget will align with your purchases, hopefully with a bit left over. And even if you come out only even, you’ve still completed your tasks and may enjoy the holidays stress-free.

Bunch and Brock, Attorneys at Law have been serving our community from offices in Lexington, Kentucky, for more than 35 years. We have the knowledge, experience and resources to serve a variety of your legal and business needs. We don’t just serve the community – we are members of it, and we look forward to helping our neighbors when they need us. If you have legal questions or would like to set up an appointment, contact us online or call us at 859.254.5522.