It’s About Not Letting Holidays Break Your Bank Account

Celebrations don’t have to break your bank account. Below is an excerpt from my latest book–Money Smarts: Personal Financial Success in 30 Days! (Mile High Press)

To Think About: If you have kids, you know what the “gimmes” are. If you don’t have kids, and have friends and relatives who do, or you’ve ever been in a store, you have witnessed the gimmes. It’s a childhood disease that becomes epidemic when holidays and birthdays approach. And, no wonder. The media, through advertising, blitzes kids with every kind of conceivable toy and doo-dad. Kids have a hard time deciding what treasure they want. If the truth be told, they want them all. “Gimme this and gimme that!”

How about you? Do you get the adult gimmes? Do you go hog-wild during the holidays with gift buying for one and all? Do you expect gifts from all your friends and relatives?

Comedian George Carlin created a hilarious routine on “stuff.” Most people have plenty of stuff; some have way too much stuff. Before adding to your closets, shelves and garages, do a reality check. Maybe someone else could use some of the stuff you already have.

To Do: Call a family meeting before the pizzazz and excitement of holidays and birthdays hit. Tell them that you want to put together a spending plan for the next holiday season. Your spending plan could actually involve no money—time could be your currency.

• Everyone makes a list of potential gift recipients.

• Each family member decides what his or her money budget is.

• Determine what kind of gifts to be given: ideas include a store-bought present, homemade treats, time, money, even a donation in their name. Be open to possibilities that get generated from the “group think tank.”

• Consider adopting a cause and tell friends and other family members that you don’t want a gift given to you. Instead, tell them what or whom you would like a gift given to.

• Have each family member make a “wish” list. Family and friends can ask if there is anything specific someone wants. If budget and wishes fit, the days of returns will be eliminated.

• Large families routinely draw names and set a monetary limit to how much can be spent on a gift. Why not try it in yours to keep spending down?

Money $mart Tip It’s not unusual to get something you really don’t want. How about starting a tradition with family and friends with whom you exchange gifts and create Wish Lists? Kids that can’t write yet can clip pictures from catalogs. That way, no one gets “junk” and everyone is sure to receive something that they really want.

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