The holidays are here again and our pockets are already feeling the burn.  It’s the time of year where budgets go out the window.  It’s not easy, those last minute presents and dinners we host aren’t something most are willing to sacrifice.  At the same time, these few months are where we need to reevaluate what we’ve done and what we want to do.  As you may have heard, if you don’t know where you are going, you might end up somewhere else.     

Secret Santa

Let’s be real, do we need to be getting gifts for anyone over 15? I don’t mean to sound smug but I’m part of an ever growing family, as many of us are.  Babies keep popping up, who seem to find a way into my holiday spending.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to do it but at some point reality for my aging relatives is going to set in.  The solution is a secret santa.  Have everyone pick a name out of a hat and that’s who you’ll buy for.  One and done!  Grab bag’s are also popular.  Tell everyone to show up with a wrapped inexpensive (gender neutral) gift.  At a certain point in the night, everyone can choose one.  In my experience, there is always some comedy infused into the gift choices, which makes it more fun.  

Retail Me Not

Do yourself a favor and don’t pay full retail price.  While this is true throughout the year, it’s especially the case in November and December.  RetailMeNot.com can be a resource for you before you take that Sunday ride to the mall.  The site allows you to browse coupon codes, product deals, gift card deals, cash back offers, Black Friday deals, and free shipping promotions.  With average holiday spending being about $800 per person, I think we can all use every discount we can get.

Buy What’s In Season

SustainableTable.com is an amazing tool to save money of food.  It can tell you exactly what’s in season.  This is important because buying in season will save you money.  Buying fruit or vegetables out of season will cost a grocery store more money to get on the shelves, which will increase the price for the consumer.  It will benefit the shopper to do a little research and planning, if their goal is to save a couple bucks.  

Review New Year’s Resolutions

This time of year is a great time to review what your wrote down last December/January (hopefully you did write them down).  Most people get this part of goal setting wrong, they write it down and forget about it.  What good does that do?  If you are going to set a goal, I believe it should be reviewed 4 times a year (every quarter).  The reason for this is because things can happen that may call for an adjustment.  I know I’ve set goals that were not relevant by the time March rolled around.  This doesn’t mean you’ve quit, don’t get down on yourself.  It’s okay to refocus your efforts somewhere else if you decide something is not for you.  What’s not okay is quitting something because you don’t think you can achieve it.    

Start Thinking of New Year’s Resolutions

Think about who you want to become by the end of 2017.  What type of person do you want to be?  Once decided, it will be easier to decide what your resolutions should be.  Some guiding tips for you are to invest in yourself and take action.  Let this year become the year you follow up with your dreams.  Take that course, read that book, go on the vacation, get that job, or start that business!  Remember, review these goals every 3 months.  

Tax

Start thinking about your taxes, as I’m sure you don’t want to get surprised by an unwanted tax bill.  Make sure you have paid 100% of last years tax liability or 90% of this years.  Call your tax guy or girl and set up a preliminary meeting in order to avoid interest and penalties, as not taking this advice can cost you money.  Also, find a tax preparer now before their schedules fill up (the good ones may get taken).  If you end up scrambling for someone, you may end up being put on extension or even worse going to a national franchise.  Don’t procrastinate!    

Retirement Considerations

If possible, get as close as you can in maxing out your retirement contributions.  Get to your allowable contribution limits if you have holiday bonus cash to put to work.  Don’t just waste it on a senseless cause, be disciplined!  Ask your financial professional for the limits attributable to this year, as they fluctuate each year due to inflation.  

Use these seven tips to improve yourself and your money.  Be better than average!  Comments are encouraged and welcomed below.

Eric Estevez is a freelance writer, blogger, finance coach, and tax accountant. He has been training in the grappling art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu since 2010, currently holding the rank of Purple Belt. JiuJitsuFinance.com combines his passion and life's work where he teaches you how to do Financial Jiu-Jitsu! The blog focuses on financial literacy, as well as current financial issues for all ages.

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