holiday-financial-checklist


Holiday Checklist: Spreading Cheer with Finances in Mind

The holidays can be such a joyful time for both giving and receiving. Caught up in the joy of the season, you may be tempted to put your financial awareness on the back burner. However, by keeping your financial goals at the front of your mind, you can preemptively plan for the holidays, putting guilt and stress behind you. Use this holiday financial checklist to help you spread cheer this year without spreading yourself or your resources too thinly.

1. Set a Festive Budget

First, fix yourself a hot mug of coffee, cider, or hot chocolate and sit down with your accounts in front of you. Gain a bird’s-eye view of your current financial landscape and use it to plan the upcoming holidays. Then, in a spreadsheet, document, or journal page, make a list of individuals and organizations you’d like to gift this year. (Set the mood by playing a little holiday music for adding festive colors to your Excel sheet.)

Once you’ve done that, set a guideline for the amount you’re planning on allocating to each entry on your list. (If you have a specific gift idea while you’re in planning mode, definitely write it down as well!) In addition to gifting, don’t forget to include space in your budget for special holiday food and treats, plane tickets, or outings to see holiday lights. Once you have your master list completed, add up all the numbers to get a rough estimate of the overall holiday budget. As you check off gifts, supplies, and activities, enter the amount spent into your holiday budget log. This can help you feel confident as you dive into planning and purchasing.

2. Prioritize Charitable Giving

Modern interpretations of the holidays can put a little too much emphasis on receiving, but it’s giving that is the optimal way to spend our holiday resources. Set aside both money and time to give back to your favorite charitable organizations. Winter can be a difficult time for those in need, and your gifts and volunteer hours can really make a difference. Charitable giving is also a great practice to engage in preparation for the upcoming tax season. At the end of the year, you’ll have a more complete picture of your finances. With that in mind, you may be able to put aside a little extra for worthy causes. When engaging in charitable giving, make sure to keep all of your receipts. This will make claiming your charitable gift exception easier when you fill out your tax return. Meet with your financial advisor to proactively plan for the season of giving.

3. Think experiences, not gifts.

Plan an experience that you and your loved one can enjoy together. Whether it’s a camping trip, a cooking class, a DIY kit, or an unexpected getaway, remember that time spent together is often the greatest gift. If you share a favorite activity, schedule time on the calendar to do that activity together. Or, think outside the box and plan a spontaneous afternoon activity that neither of you has ever tried. They’ll remember the experience fondly, and you’ll know your gift is more than just another object that is collecting dust in their home.

4. Consider handmade gifts.

Around the holidays, you’ll often hear the phrase, “it’s the thought that counts,” when it comes to gifts and giving. That’s definitely true, and your thoughtfulness will be even more evident with a handmade gift. Most of us have a particular talent or skill, and this season is the perfect time to put it to use. Are you an amateur artist? Customized paintings or pottery mean a lot. Writer? Personalized poems are a delight. Woodworker? Handmade picture frames, stools, or coasters are gorgeous and meaningful. You don’t have to be artistic or creative to give a handmade gift. Candles, bath bombs, cookies, and bread don’t take much creative flair, but they’re deeply appreciated by recipients! If you have young children, be sure to involve them in the process. They’ll learn that giving a gift can be more than just a quick stop at your local Target. (Although that’s always a great option in a pinch!) 

Let Southwestern Investment Group Help Make Holidays Bright

We hope this holiday financial checklist was helpful! If thinking about the financial aspects of the holidays makes you want to run for cover, reach out to a financial adviser at Southwestern Investment Group. Becoming aware of your full financial picture doesn’t have to be scary. Whatever your financial goals, we are here to answer your questions and suggest Financial Solutions that meet your specific needs.

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