GREENSBORO, NC -- The holidays are great. Food, family, gifts, parties and that little thing called STRESS! Could financial stress be a contributor?
Many of you may not directly link your stress to your holiday spending, but Certified Financial Planner Matt Logan of Matt Logan, Inc says, " it is a contributing factor. If this is the time of year that you run up credit card debt and erase all of the progress that you have made all year long, you might want to pay attention. "
Matt's first rule: putting together a realistic budget.
"Try to sit down with your spouse and create a realistic list of expenses. Don't forget to include things other than gifts such as holiday cards, a Christmas tree, any Christmas parties you may have and any donations that you may do during the holidays. For many of you who have never done a Christmas budget, this total number may come as a sickening surprise to you."
The point is not to be a grinch, but if you know how this budget looks, you will be able to make slightly wiser choices when you are in the heat of your Christmas shopping bliss.
"When doing a budget, be sure to leave wiggle room. None of us are robots. Also, make sure that you know where this money is going to come from. If it is to be all on credit cards, you may want to look a little further and make some cuts. It is not worth the stress."
According to the National Retail Federation, sales in the months of November and December of 2013 are expected to be $602.1 billion. This is an increase of 3.9% from 2012 and more importantly, this is a whole lot of money. Another survey by Prosper Insights & Analytics says the average holiday shopper will spend $737.95. For many families who may have a tight financial picture in the first place, this amount is often put on credit cards.
"Many people I speak with, as well as my own extended family have gone away from giving individual gifts to doing a gift exchange. My wife uses a website called "Elfster".
To set it all up, you place a spending limit and it randomly selects who you gift. Each participant can request a gift that they would like to receive but the system keeps it anonymous. It is a great tool, but the even better part that is instead of buying a small gift for each member of a large family, you can focus on one person and get a little better item.
Matt Logan is a Representative with Matt Logan Inc and Summit Brokerage and may be reached at www.mattloganinc.com, 336-808-0126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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