Your Money Matters: Keep holiday finances in check

Kathy Roser

Kathy’s Tips:

Watch those credit cards
It’s awfully easy to spend much more than you plan when you’re just collecting receipts.  If you pay cash for most of your gifts, when the cash is gone. . . it’s gone.

Be careful with the internet
Again, too easy to spend way outside a budget.  And the “attractive” offers have already begun – pretty pictures, bright colors, lots of holiday “spirit”.

If you have children, encourage them to give something that makes them feel good.
We’ve had a number of natural disasters, some very close to home.  Let your children select an item of clothing or a favorite toy to give to someone with so much less.

Volunteer.
Many local churches and other organizations look for people to help wrap gifts for homeless or needy children.  Some need people to help cook a meal to be taken to a shelter.

Don’t let emotion take control
If you receive a holiday bonus and are on a tight budget, the last thing to do is veer away from what should be a prudent spending pattern. Be realistic with your gift list. If you have a number of family members to buy for, suggest drawing names and setting a price limit.

Give practical gifts
If people on your gift list are on tight budgets, give them something they can use. Or offer your service or talent.

Make a budget and stick with it as closely as possible.

Be careful with your own clothing budget, you don’t always need something new to wear to holiday parties.

Gifts
Consider contributing to your children’s 529 college savings plans. The gift of a 529 plan probably won’t make your grandchildren squeal with joy on Christmas morning. But years from now, when they graduate from college debt-free, they’ll thank you. It also gives you a chance to teach your children/grandchildren about savings. You can gift up to $14,000 without having to file a gift tax return.

Give yourself a present in the form of money for an IRA account. This will help you build a nest egg for retirement.

www.morganstanleyindividual.com/

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