Let’s face it there are just some traits you are born with. For example, you are either a runner or not a runner. I fall firmly in the not runner camp. You are a dog/cat/reptile/no-pet person. You are a saver or a spender. You are a morning person or a night owl. You are an early or a last minute holiday shopper.
You can try to overcome these tendencies, but it’s hard. Why not embrace the real you and just be the best non-running, over spending, late night, python loving, last minute shopper that you really are? To that end, here are some benefits to being both types of shopper:
According to US News & World Report, early shoppers are happy because:
- Better selection – those last minute shoppers will only get the pea-green iPhone covers for their kids
- Space out the spending – smaller gift bills throughout the year are easier to pay than a huge one in January
- Lower shipping costs – you don’t have to pay those 1-day urgent shipping charges for your online gifts
- Spending more time with family over the holidays – versus panicked trips to the mall
ProgressNewspaper.org suggests that last minute shoppers enjoy:
- Smaller crowds – those early shoppers are all home drunk on egg nog and watching Elf
- Discounted prices – stores are trying to clean out before the dreaded January inventory count
- Lower chance of discovery – kids have less chance of finding their gifts if they are only in the trunk of your car for 10 hours
- When all else fails, your local grocer has gift cards for every personality!
There’s only so much lecturing I can do about budgeting so you can save for longer term goals. So, I brought in someone else to do the lecturing for me! Carol Craigie, CFP ®, is the Managing Partner of Fiscal Fitness Clubs of America. Below, some budget friendly and FUN ideas for creatively celebrating the holidays.
From Carol: There are many ways to make the holidays fun and filled with love, without creating stress for next year. Here are some creative solutions I have seen that have brought joy and budget reductions at the same time!
Extended Family Strategies:
- White elephant gift exchange.
- Drawing names, so each person only buys one person a gift with an amount limit.
- No gifts for adults, but gifts for those under 18.
- Creating a “We believe in your future “book for each child, along with a 529 plan. Adults can choose a modest amount to gift each child’s plan and then writes a note in their book sharing wisdom and wishes.
- Gifts of time and shared joy. With this one, each person thinks of something that the others would want, such as cleaning out the garage, catered meal, a trip to the zoo, weekend babysitting etc., and sets a date to spend time doing it along with a note about why you enjoy spending time with the person.
Core Family Strategies:
- A budget set for each person to spend on a defined family combined wish. This could be a vacation, a trip to an amusement park, ski passes, etc. Everyone is then encouraged to give inexpensive meaningful gifts with the balance of funds being contributed to the family’s wish.
- Picking names and setting a budget per recipient.
- Utilizing the gifts of time and shared joy as described above.
- Every family member looks at the three months ahead of the holidays to find ways for earning extra money. That money is then set aside for gift giving. For example, a weekend stocking shift at a local store, lawn cutting, snow shoveling, extra shift at work, chores around the house, etc.
All of these strategies can be ways of both reducing costs, and teaching children valuable lessons by separating money from joy, while still honoring the tradition and love for family and friends.
If you are struggling to live within your means or need strategies to help with debt, I highly recommend Carol. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out her the website at www.fiscalfitnessclubs.com
Ah, the holidays. A time when you want to spend more money than usual, but your bills and paycheck stay the same. According to the ubiquitous ads on the radio, you should be refinancing your mortgage and all of your financial dreams will come true.
Is this really the case? I went to mortgage expert Dave Majcen, Vice President of Mortgage Lending at Guaranteed Rate Mortgage, to learn about the signs that you should refinance your home loan. Here are his tips:
- Consider time frame: Make sure you are staying in the house long enough to recoup the closing costs and monthly savings. If you are unsure, look into a no closing cost refinance and let the lender pick up the tab. This way your return on investment starts with your first payment.
- Don’t go backwards. If you have been paying on your 30 year fixed mortgage for 10-15 years, don’t go back to a 30 year fixed or you will be paying interest on top of interest. Consider a 15 year fixed with current rates below 3% and put more towards principal.
- Use a trusted local lender. In Colorado, appraisers won’t even accept orders from out of state lenders. If they do, it can take months and the costs can be much higher than average causing frustration.
- If you are paying mortgage insurance, consider refinancing now. Values in Colorado have risen substantially which will allow you to refinance and eliminate mortgage insurance and reduce your interest rate. A win, win!
Thanks for the perspective! For more info or to see if a re-fi is right for you, contact Dave Majcen at 720-399-7065 or email@example.com.
“Thanksgiving is an emotional time. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they see only once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.” ~ Johnny Carson
Does this sound familiar? What if this is the year that tough conversations need to take place with parents and siblings about caregiving? How about if you know your kids are spending way above their lifestyle with no savings and it’s driving you crazy?
No one wants to ruin the holidays with awkward conversations or arguments. However, with today’s spread out families, it can be hard to have face-to-face discussions about important issues at any other time.
Here are 3 tips to combining family business with holiday celebrations:
- Delay the conversation until after the holiday: If you need to stay an extra day this year to discuss family business, plan for it. Also let your siblings, parents, or kids know that you have some ideas you’d like to discuss during the extra time together. That lets the others know that it won’t all be about Black Friday bargains.
- Start with an outside example: If you are worried about your parents’ finances in retirement or your kids’ lack of an emergency fund, bring up a story about another friend or news article you read about the subject. Family may naturally open up about their preparedness for a similar situation. Or you could ask an open ended questions like, “How do you see yourself spending time in retirement?” Avoid confrontational questions like, “How much do you have saved in your emergency fund?”
- Prepare the adult kids for changes: Sometimes parents are planning to sell the family home, need to live on a tighter budget, or plan to move away from their kids for various reasons. Boomer divorce rates are, well, booming, as people retire and realize they don’t want to spend the next 20 years of downtime with the person they raised the family with. Again, this conversation may not be appropriate over pecan pie (you might ruin pecan pie for your kids forever and that would be sad), but you should carve out some time prior to everyone leaving to have the talk.
Remember, as life situations change, our relationships change, too. It’s important to treat your family members as adults, prepare to compromise, and don’t overreact to big changes. Some time to digest family news before making huge decisions or dramatic statements will benefit everyone. Maybe we can all just relax over Christmas!