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Watching Your Retirement Budget During the Holidays

By now, you’ve probably experienced Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. How have they affected your holiday spending for 2020?

With less people shopping in-person and turning to online shopping, you may not be keeping track of those online payments, credit card spends, and dollars spent on Christmas presents for family and friends. Don’t forget. You’ll hopefully have a few in-person gathering and friend during the holidays – using social distancing of course!

Everyone loves giving during the holidays, but can overspending your annual budget make you feel short starting out 2021’s monthly bills? While you are looking at over a $1 million in your retirement accounts, that money needs to last throughout your retirement years and utilities, health and automobile insurance, unknown medical expenses, and even food and fun, can add up quickly and deteriorate your available cashflow.

Here’s a few ideas to make the holidays special without usurping your retirement budget.

  • Have a specific budget amount. Whether it’s quantity or quality, don’t overspend a specified amount for those presents. Go into December with a set amount for gifts, gatherings, or any other expenses for the month. Once you reach that number, stick to your goals.
  • Talk to your partner. How much does your spouse plan on spending? How many people do you need to buy for? Do you plan on hosting people at your house? Are you going out of town to visit family/friends? Do you want to go somewhere warm vs. snow and rain? By communicating and understanding potential expenses, you can design a budget to fit your holiday game plan.
  • Where can you cut costs? With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting gatherings and restaurants, maybe you don’t have to budget for those expenses during the holidays. Is it safe to take that trip out-of-state to visit the grandkids? Would carryout meals cost just as much as your gatherings? Find costs that you can “move the dollars” to different items to expand your tight budget.
  • Understand your credit cards. Some people tend to use their credit cards during the holidays to take advantage of loyalty or reward programs to earn extra dollars. However, they may not understand that charging holiday gifts may come at a larger interest percentage depending on the credit card company. Do you want to keep paying for that interest over a longer period of time? If you use your cards, try to pay off all that spending in January’s bill vs. stretching it over many months. If you’ve earned cashback rewards, use those for the gifts.

Remember, you always can cut back on spending and there are ways to make every holiday gathering special for you and your family. Christmas isn’t just about the presents! We hope you will take this advice during the holidays.