How to Stick to Your Financial Plan this Holiday Season

December 22, 2016

 

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What does starting 2017 off with clean financial slate mean to you? For some, it could mean no outstanding credit card debt. For others, it could mean having finalized retirement contributions in place for 2016. Here are several steps you can take now to prepare for financial success in 2017. 

Avoid Accumulating Debt
The best way to avoid excess credit card debt is to outline a budget for holidayspending. Planning ahead and putting money aside ahead of time is a great way to prepare for the extra spending of the holiday season. If you choose to make purchases using a credit card, be sure to pay off the balance before the interest starts adding up. 

According to U.S. News, checking your credit score before applying for credit at retailers is imperative to financial health during the holiday season. Shoppers who are looking to to improve or maintain their score are less likely to open new lines of credit or charge purchases for holiday spending.

Remember Income Tax Planning
When you have family in town and are taking off time from work, it can be easy for financial planning to slip to the back of your mind during the holidays. According to Forbes, it’s important to take action on maximizing retirement plan contributions as well as seeking out opportunities for capital gains and loss harvesting. Furthermore, the end of the year is a great time to consider charitable gifting and maximizing annual exclusion gifts.

Don’t Wait to Max Out Retirement Accounts
According to US News and Money, it is better to fund your retirement account throughout the entire year so that the money has a longer period of time to grow. Otherwise, you’re missing out on a whole year’s worth of growth. As a New Year’s Resolution, you could opt to set up automatic contributions to your accounts that work within your budget. Starting in January, make monthly contributions to your IRAs and retirement plans and watch them grow significantly faster than waiting until the last minute.

Keep Total Spending in Perspective
It’s important to keep in mind that presents aren’t the only aspect of spending during the holiday season. You might be splurging on expensive dinners at nice restaurants because friends and family are in town, holiday parties, New Years festivities and other fun holiday experiences. It’s fine to take part in some of these festivities and splurge on a few things here and there, but remember to keep it under control. Don’t rationalize over-spending your holiday budget just to “eat, drink and be merry.” 

Ron Sanders

Written by Ron Sanders

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