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Sacramento Boomer

Season's Spendings: 8 Money-Saving Holiday Tips

It’s officially the holiday season, aka, the season of spending. Boomers are exceptional retail consumers, which is why corporations love us this time of year. As we get older and our families expand, the cycle of year-end spending can become more challenging to manage, especially as incomes plateau or even decrease. Here are some tips for keeping the financial stress—before, during, and after the holidays—from making their annual visit.

Start saving ahead of time
Don’t wait for the leaves to fall off the trees or the rain to come before you decide to stash a little aside for the grandkids. Start a “holiday fund” through your bank or other financial institution. Certificate of deposits are good savings vehicles, as they have finite timelines and penalties if you’re tempted to borrow from them.

Avoid gifting cash
Our families can grow exponentially over the years, and continuing the cash envelope tradition can put added stress on the gifter. Though we all appreciate the generosity, having loved ones there for the festivities is the real gift.

Make a budget
One word: spreadsheets. If you thought you were through with them when you retired—not so fast. Even if you’re an old-school pencil-and-paper list maker, make a budget and then fit the list into the budget—not the other way around! The budget should include everything from gifts and gas, to food, travel costs, and seasonal decorating.

Host potluck parties
Instead of going all-in by cooking filet mignon and dungeness crab for 30 people, host a potluck and delegate a dish to each guest. Make a list of what you want people to bring and stick to it. 

Make gifts
It can be as simple as an updated picture of the family, a family recipe book, or a calendar of events and birthdays with photos. There are hundreds of simple (some not so simple) and inexpensive gifts ideas on YouTube and Pinterest.
Find additional income
If you’ve reviewed and revised a part-time holiday budget and it still doesn’t balance, consider sources of extra income. Businesses are typically shorthanded during the holidays; avail yourself to the opportunity of earning some part-time cash. As an added bonus, retail stores offer discounts to their employees. Another idea? Declutter and sell the extra items around your home on places like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

Avoid impulse spending
If you go shopping with a list, you’ll be less likely to make impulse purchases. Know which gifts you’re looking for and stop when you’re finished.

Avoid using credit
Using credit cards to purchase holiday gifts when you won’t have the funds to pay the balance of the debt next month should be avoided. If you already have a tight budget, adding debt payments will cause more stress throughout the year. 

By Lorn Randall