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Five Ways to Improve your Holiday Shopping



The holidays are here, and the shopping has begun! My wife and I have never been big shoppers. We tend to give modest, practical gifts. I remember one year when we were dating in college, she bought me a single boot as a gift (I had to buy the other one because she could only afford the one). I was very thankful to have those boots – we did live in Minnesota after all. Even though shopping is not my thing, I understand that many people enjoy it. This year, I would like to encourage you to take a few minutes as you read this article to reflect on your holiday spending and consider being more thoughtful in your shopping. Here are some tips to help you:

  1. Make a list and check it twice. Make a list of all the people you usually buy gifts for during the holidays. See if there is any way you can whittle that list down. One solution is to talk to your family and agree to draw names and then just get one gift for that person. Or, just give gifts to the kids in the family.

  2. "The cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon..." One of my favorite songs emphasizes the importance of quality time and experiences over possessions. Think about the kinds of gifts you give your kids and other family. Is there an experience or trip that you could arrange that would be more memorable than another gift? I particularly like going places where everyone is forced to put down their phones and actually interact with each other.

  3. Creativity is key. The holidays can feel stressful when you are rushing about trying to get presents bought, wrapped and hidden, the house cleaned and decorated for company, and the meals prepared. Take a moment and ask yourself, "How can I be creative in my gift-giving this year?" For example, maybe you have a special type of cookie that you love to bake. Or, you are a woodworker and can make a set of personalized coasters. I just Googled "DIY holiday gifts" and found a plethora of ideas. Not only are these gifts probably more appreciated than the standard store-bought gift, but they are fun to make and may just help lower your stress both financially and by giving you a creative outlet.

  4. The early bird gets the bargain. The worst thing you can do during the holidays is to go in debt for your shopping. There are several ways you can avoid this.

    • Shop early – you can buy gifts starting at holiday clearance sales and store them for next year. Or, purchase gifts throughout the year. The earlier you begin your shopping, the more bargain-conscious you can be.

    • Save throughout the year – start your Holiday Fund in January by saving a certain amount each month to be cashed in for holiday shopping later.

  5. One of my favorite gifts. Open a 529 plan. 529's are tax-advantaged savings plans that can be used for education expenses. Rather than having your young kids inundated with gifts and toys (and playing with just the boxes they came in), suggest to your friends and family a donation to the child's college savings plan. Once the account is opened, they can send in a check or donate online at https://www.ugift529.com/ (I can of course help you with setting all of this up). They can even print a gift certificate from the website so the child has something to open. It may not seem like the most exciting gift in the moment, but you will know they are receiving opportunity in their future.
I take seriously my responsibility to help you meet your financial goals, whether that means offering shopping tips or investing strategies. As always, I want you to be well-informed and reflective in both your spending and your investing. Thank you for your attention – now you can go back to your Cyber Monday search for those perfect gifts. Whether you decide to give a single boot, a snorkeling trip to Hawaii, or a 529 donation, just remember to be thoughtful in your shopping and stay within your budget. Happy holidays.

If you have questions or if you would like more information on setting up that 529 Plan in time for the holidays, you can e-mail me at mhaertzen@wtwealthmanagement.com or call (520) 204-1058.

Sincerely,

Matt Haertzen
Matthew J. Haertzen



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