Last Minute Holiday Spending Tips in a Unique Year

Sebastien Chevrier - Dec 18, 2020
Some tips that can help you avoid the temptation in a year where we are faced with being separated from loved ones in person and celebrating differently.

2020 has been a year different than any we’ve experienced in our lifetimes, with circumstances all the more magnified and challenging for physicians. As we head into the final week, a time when many are scrambling to find the perfect gift and are tempted to overspend, we wanted to share some tips that can help you avoid the temptation in a year where we are faced with being separated from loved ones in person and celebrating differently.

 

Set a Budget

With everything that you likely have going on in your practice, we know that setting time aside to create a “Holiday Gift Budget,” may be the last thing on your list.  But, taking 30 minutes to sit down and go over how much you have spent and how much more you should reasonably spend could save you significant dollars.  Treat yourself to an egg nog or glass of wine and some holiday music to make it more enjoyable if the prospect of sitting down to deal with a budget feels sort of….unfestive (but careful to set your budget before too much ‘good cheer’ sets in!)

First, determine exactly how much you have in surplus right now to allocate to gift-giving.  It can be tempting to use credit for gifting but try to remain conscious of how it feels to open up a big credit card bill that you will have to pay off in January.  If you know you have the funds available, it makes that exercising way less painful when the time comes and will start the new year on the right foot financially.

Next, it can be helpful to list your gift recipients in order of “big gifts” (your children, your parents), “medium gifts” (cousins, aunts, and uncles, friends), and “small gifts” (your neighborhood’s annual holiday party hosts who won’t be having anyone over this year). From there, you can divide your overall spend figure from the total amount of recipients on your list, giving you an average cost. 

Finally, tweak this average higher for your “big gifts” category, lower for “small gifts,” and stay close to the average for “medium gifts.” Breaking down general cost parameters for each category will make it much easier to avoid impulse purchases that can quickly add up on each laptop trip to Amazon. 

 

A Gift with Meaning

At a time when so many are suffering the financial effects of COVID, consider making donations in family members' names to a charity such as supporting a family in need or donating to a food drive or local women's shelter.  This type of gift will make you and the recipient feel good and may also provide for a tax benefit as well.

 

Find different ways to connect

As distant as this may seem from a financial tip, advance scheduling of virtual visits with loved ones can go a long way towards alleviating your desire to overspend as a means of compensating for missing out on holiday gatherings. And as a physician who has likely had enough virtual calls with patients to last a lifetime, it’s vital to add some fun to each “drop-in.” For example, why not set up a “pyjama party” with your grandchildren or younger relatives? Set up your phone or laptop in front of the couch, have everyone show up in pyjamas, and agree to start the same holiday movie on Netflix at the same time. It’s these memories that those younger relatives will remember for a lifetime, not the toy or gadget that they will forget about by years end. Knowing this will allow the actual gifts you purchase to serve as a small supplement to your holiday experience together, not the defining element.

 

Shop the deals and support local business

In response to both the unique circumstances surrounding lockdowns as well as the need to compete in a crowded online marketplace, some companies are offering special deals this holiday season that will save you money.  Take the time to seek these out and find ways to support small businesses.  While Amazon has certainly seen a huge increase in demand which has had a desirable effect for shareholders, there are a lot of small businesses that are struggling right now. Hence, try and consider alternatives in your community.

Ensuring you keep to your budget will save you the pain of figuring out how to pay off the bills in January and will set you on the right track financially for 2021. Sticking to a budget isn’t easy, so motivate yourself to do so by setting yourself a personal challenge.  If you meet your goal,  treat yourself.  After everything you have had to endure and navigate this past year, doing something nice for yourself is well deserved. 

 

We regularly share financial posts on both our blog and Twitter, so continue to check back whenever you get a chance.