IN a few weeks, we shall enter the most festive period in our country: the Christmas season. We shall again see the twinkling of Christmas lights; hear the laughter of our friends and loved ones; taste the most sumptuous food; and see crowds in malls, on the streets and during dawn Masses.
Thinking about it makes me excited and, of course, anticipate the expenses involved. With this in mind, let me give you an early Christmas present by sharing with you four practical finance tips for the season:
1. Start saving by January. If there is one thing that I would really emphasize in spending for the holidays, it is to start buying gifts early and saving up early.
The first 11 months of the year give us time to buy the stuff we want to give to people.
And sale periods are opportunities to buy items cheaper. For instance, if you have a P11,000 budget, then spreading it over 11 months means setting aside P1,000 a month or P500 every pay day.
Going on a holiday trip? Book flights early or look for promos and set aside some cash for that dream vacation. The trick is to spread an otherwise heavy budget over the earlier months and avail yourself of promos and discounts during the period.
2. Make your list. Make a Christmas gift list, which would not only help you identify the people you would give gifts to, but also moderate your spending.
To do this, list the persons that you want to give gifts to and identify how much your budget is for each. I recommend that you divide this list into two categories: the “must-gives,” or the people you must give gifts to, and they are usually family members, valued clients and friends; and the “nice-to-gives,” or the people you can feel free to give to or not, and they usually include acquaintances, officemates or neighbors.
After completing your list, add the amounts and the total is your holiday budget. If you think the total is overboard, then go back to your list and adjust accordingly. At the end of the day, making a gift list gives you control over your spending and sets the pace for your budgeting.
3. Go for value. Have more bang out of every buck. Think Divisoria, bazaars and online shops. Divisoria alone is a minefield for accessories, knick-knacks and kiddie gift items. The trick to this is just knowing about upcoming sales and bazaars, which you can check on websites or your newspaper. But a reminder: hunting for great buys requires great patience in going from one stall to another.
4. Re-gift. Let’s admit it: Not all gifts we receive, we like. There are only two options for such gifts: they stay or they go. If they stay, chances are, they would just gather dust. If they go, then it could end up in the trashcan — which would be such a waste — or with another person. The latter is called re-gifting. It is not at all tacky, if seen in the context of not hoarding things that you do not like and paying it forward to people who you think might need them or want them.
Re-gifting enables us to save on otherwise bought if not for the gift given to us. I am not saying to have it as a general policy during holidays. But for these items, you might want to consider giving them to people on your list of the “nice-to-gives,” the persons not on your gift list, but you would want to give otherwise, or save it up for other occasions.
Rienzie P. Biolena is a registered financial planner of RFP Philippines. He’s also a chartered wealth advisor and chief financial planner of WealthArki and Consultancy, a financial planning firm. Learn more about personal financial planning at the 80th RFP program in January 2920.. To inquire, email firstname.lastname@example.org or send a message to 0917-9689774.