5 Financial Skills to Help Navigate the Holiday Season

A shiny gold ribbon a bow are wrapped around a stack of $100 bills
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With a new son-in-law, a boatload of houseguests for the holidays and some big financial commitments coming up in 2024, we are laser-focused on having a great holiday season -- in a financially responsible manner, of course. Personally, it will be a challenge. However, if I can walk my talk and demonstrate mastery of the skills below, it will be possible.

Again, the goal here is to enjoy the holidays without sustaining a lot of financial damage. We need to enter the new year with some serious dry powder. Here are the skills that are going to get us there:

1. Executing the Shopping List

If you've ever grocery-shopped with a list or picked up your necessities online, you know that leads to a much better job of shopping in a financially prudent way. It's amazing how much less you spend when you swoop in or surgically select and buy only what you need. We have built a list for our holiday shopping and other outlays and will stick to it.

2. Leveraging Financial Gifts

I like the idea of giving gifts that have a real impact. They could cost more, but they offer the potential to really help. As I've listened to the newest couple in our family, I know this would help them. And, of course, we are already diligently setting aside money for our grandkids in a 529 plan. The other benefit of a financial gift is that it offers a definitive "spend" that can keep you from falling prey to shopping without a plan.

3. Utilizing Accountability Partnerships

My wife and I do a good job of balancing each other out in a lot of areas. Whether we are trying to eat right, exercise or moderate spending, two minds seem to be better than one. Typically, at least one of us will have the willpower to make the right decision at the right time. We will continue to do that as we plan our spending for gifts, parties, food, etc., and then we will work together to make sure we don't stray.

4. Setting Firm Limits

The last thing the holidays should do is place your family in a financial bind. One way to avoid that is not to make exorbitant emotional purchases. Before you get caught up in the spirit of the season and begin to shop or plan your get-togethers and trips, establish a firm cap on what is to be spent. Make it stick.

5. Negotiating in Advance

This is not nearly as complex of a negotiation as you probably already conduct daily. Early on this year, we conducted a drawing to clearly delineate who is buying gifts for whom and in what price range. This skill can be especially handy with your extended family. If you've ever felt dread at figuring out what to buy your 16 nieces and nephews, you know where I'm coming from. Instead, draw names and come to an agreement. That's negotiation.

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