By Coach Tim

Ahhh, the holidays, the most wonderful time of the year… or so the song goes. There really are a lot of
great things to enjoy this time of year. Family, friends, gifts, and so much food! Unfortunately, it can
also be a stressful time for pretty much all the same reasons. One stressor that gets a lot of us at the
holidays is trying to manage our money when there are so many opportunities to spend it. Short of
moving to a nearby hillside and bah-humbugging everyone in the town below, there are some strategies
you can use to alleviate the financial stress that comes with the holiday season.

1. Set a Budget – While the look on your kid’s face might be priceless when they open up that new
iPhone X, it’s not going to keep the lights on. Lay out all of your income and regular expenses
first and see what you have available for spreading holiday cheer. Once you have a number in
mind that won’t break the bank, allocate that amount to your seasonal expenses… gifts, meals,
donations, travel, mistletoe and the five-pound Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup down at the Kum &
Go. Well… maybe skip that last one.
2. Avoid Impulse Shopping – Sometimes you find the perfect gift for that special someone until
you look at the price tag and suddenly it’s not so perfect anymore. It’s easy to splurge in the
moment and worry about the cost later, but when you’re struggling to pay the bills all you will
have is regret. One idea to control impulse spending is to go on “shopping” trips to identify
what you are going to buy for whom, and “spending” trips where you actually buy everything on
your list. Another idea is to do all of your holiday shopping in cash to avoid overspending on
credit cards.
3. Plan Ahead – If you routinely spend Christmas Eve at the mall, desperately looking for gifts and
eating Moo Shu Pork in the food court, you need to stop. I mean, that’s just sad. The earlier
you start the better. Pick up a couple of things in June and put them in the back of the closet
(just don’t forget about them!). The more time you have, the more you can look for good deals
on the things you buy. Sales, coupons, outlet stores, buying clubs, and online marketplaces are
all options for saving a few bucks. Lower cost options tend to become scarce as Christmas
draws near.
However you choose to go about it, managing your finances will keep you from singing the blues this
holiday season. That’s good, because the blues aren’t seasonably appropriate for the holidays anyway.
Plan ahead, set a budget, stick to it and have a Merry Christmas!