Financial Planning: Budgeting During the Holidays (and After)

by Beck Bode Beck Bode | November 19, 2020

On any given year, the holidays are stressful. But for 2020? That’s cranking it to 11. Beyond the fear and uncertainty of COVID-19, many people will feel an outsized impact this holiday season financially between employment issues and market volatility. However, you can relieve some of this financial stress by making a plan – even if you’re halfway into your holiday. Let’s talk about budgeting during the holidays and beyond to make them merrier.

Doublecheck Your Holiday Plans

Holiday travel is always a pain and brings substantial risk this year, especially with the close quarters of traveling by plane – or even train or a shared car. If you’ve got holiday reunions on the books with friends or family, think about calling them up to see if it’s what you both really want (or should risk).

  • Take a Raincheck: Instead of canceling a trip, it might make sense to simply delay it. Not only does this clear short-term costs, but by traveling during the offseason, transportation and accommodations can be found at a lower price.
  • Switch to Video: While video isn’t perfect, spending some time to help set up an event and play IT for the more technologically illiterate of your family and friends is a great gift in and of itself. A last-gen tablet can make a great gift if you get it set up for a loved one.
  • Canceling a Flight: The coronavirus has changed how flexible many airlines can be. While it varies between airlines, many are much more likely to allow you to reschedule or provide a voucher, allowing you to take that raincheck.

Have a Frank Discussion on Gifts

If gift-giving feels like a painful obligation this year, it’s time to talk to your family to set ground rules. For early shoppers, this might mean it’s time to go back to the store for a refund and for the last-minute shoppers, making better choices in the heat of the moment. While we all like surprises, setting limits on gifts, going with one large present, or simply defaulting to cash or gift cards may make more sense. After you broach the subject, you might be surprised at how understanding people can be, especially this holiday.

Plan for a Quiet Winter

If things are set in stone for the holidays, look to balance these costs by taking it easy this winter. This winter season, in particular, it makes sense to go into hibernation.

  • Stay close to home. Winter trips can be fun, but there are always hidden costs, even for the closest ski trips. Conserve your energy and budget by staying close to home and focusing on cheap or free events if you have to go out.
  • Make it a New Year’s resolution to look through reoccurring expenses. While Netflix might be the only thing keeping us sane, take a look at all your reoccurring costs and subscriptions. If you’re reading this early, that can even include looking at healthcare insurance options.
  • Spend time with friends and family. From online word games to board game night with the family, make your free time actually free. It’s okay to break from routine and try something new – even if that’s stepping back in time to simpler pleasures.

Everyone here at Beck Bode, LLC wishes you happy holidays. It’s our belief – and part of our unique philosophy – to focus on client wellbeing and financial literacy just as hard as we focus on their planning and investment management. If you need assistance with wealth management to meet your goals, we’re here to help. Take some time, talk it out with your loved ones, and then contact us. Until then, take it easy, and we’ll see you next year!

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