‘Tis the Season for Keeping Your Budget in Check

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

By: Andrés Baltazar

The holidays are meant to be the most wonderful time of the year. So, the last thing any of us wants is to be distracted by financial stress. Still, the holidays often mean added expenses, including gifts, parties and travel. As you and your family prepare for the upcoming holidays, remember these financial strategies to keep the focus off budget woes and on enjoying all the season has to offer.

Make your list and check it twice

During the holidays especially, it can be easy to lose track of how much you’re spending on gifts, holiday treats, decorations and more. But, those (seemingly) small expenses can add up – and quickly. Map out your foreseen expenses leading up to (and even through) the New Year, and compare with your current monthly budget. If it looks like the two just won’t add up, consider where you might be able to cut expenses over the next several weeks. By pinpointing (and planning for) these costs, you’ll be less likely to experience added stress due to overspending. Then, once you’ve made your list, it’s time to strategize. Search for the best prices, and keep an eye out for holiday deals. It’s also a good idea to subscribe for retailer emails and alerts to stay up-to-date on the best offerings.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

Better watch out for impulse buys

Now that you’ve got your holiday budget, make a plan to stick to it. A helpful tactic here is keeping a log of your spending in whatever way works best for you – an old school notebook or the latest budgeting app. This accountability can benefit you not only during the holidays, but also as you evaluate your financial resolutions (and overall goals) in January. These days, it’s almost too easy to get caught up in the endless sales that kick off on Black Friday and don’t seem to let up until well into the New Year. But, rather than let yourself absent-mindedly splurge, commit to avoiding any nonessential purchases. One approach for resisting this mistake is by using your credit card only as a last resort, to avoid racking up charges you won’t see until your bill arrives.

Celebrate the season of giving

The end of the year is often a time when we put more thought into helping others. With your finances in order, consider donating to organizations and causes that are meaningful to you and your family. This can be a great opportunity to get your family involved and thinking about how giving can be part of a long-term financial plan. By taking advantage of these tips, you and your family can enjoy a holiday season that stays merry and bright, unburdened by financial stress. To contact Andrés Baltazar, please email him at andres.baltazar@nm.com, or visit his website at http://www.gbaltazar.com.

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