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Holidays on a Budget: Virginia CPAs Offer Shopping Tips
The holiday season is notorious for causing people to get off track with their spending and forget about their financial goals, say personal financial planning experts at the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA). There’s nothing worse than a budget busting post-holiday credit-card bill to bring out your inner Grinch. Start planning now and your happy holiday mood can roll right into the New Year.
Richmond financial planner Jim Shepherd, CPA, says one of the most important to things to remember is that much of the financial stress we face is self-imposed.
“While we may not always be able to control our income, we can certainly control our expenses,” Shepherd said. “Our happiness is in our own hands.”
He says the first step as we enter the holiday season is to have an understanding of where your money is going each month. As opposed to simple budgeting, he advises consumers to have a working understanding of where their money is going. That understanding will allow you to begin making wise decisions about spending.
“It is very easy for each of us to have in our minds a dollar number that we spend, but in reality we spend more because we do a poor job of tracking those expenses,” Shepherd said, “A wonderful solution is using free budget-tracking software that it will track your monthly expenses and give you regular updates. There is no reason not to understand fully where your money is going with a program this easy.”
Shepherd says it is important to recognize that people should not judge you on the cost of a gift, but the thought that went in to it.
“Your family and friends will ultimately have more respect for you if they know that you gave a gift in line with your abilities and less than what the gift actually is. Meaningful gifts do not have to cost a lot, but their meaning can be priceless,” he said. “In my own family, we have pledged to make a gift for each of the family members this year and not buy a gift.”
Additional Tips for Grinch-Free Holiday Spending
LAST UPDATED 11/21/2011