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Minimizing financial stress this holiday season

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December 5, 2016, 9:38 am

Expenses tend to accompany the holiday season and add additional stress to an already demanding time of year. With holiday sales expected to increase 3.6 percent to $655.8 billion this year, it’s safe to assume that shops will be more crowded than ever and items will be flying off the shelves faster. Here are few tips to help you enjoy the holidays without the stress and a hefty bill.

 Avoid stressful, last-minute, impulse shopping

Anthony Paul

Anthony Paul

Holiday shopping can be extremely overwhelming. If you are not prepared, you’ll be more tempted to make impulse purchases. Start by making a list of items to buy and include specific stores and websites to visit. Resist the urge to deviate from your list and don’t wait until the last minute to begin shopping.

 Create a budget

Once you determine how many gifts you need to buy, keep track of how much you spend. Do not allot any more cash or credit once the limit is reached because if you are not able to pay off your December credit card balances in full, you will likely end up paying interest on the balance you carry over.

Think strategically

Buying gifts for five to ten people, if not more, is a rather expensive task. Try incorporating a secret gift exchange or grab bag, where each family member is responsible for buying for only one person. Additionally, if you have the means, putting money into college funds, purchasing bonds, contributing to charity or helping with student loans are all untraditional, yet meaningful holiday gifts.

Plan for next year

It is never too early to begin planning. Consider opening a separate savings account for the holidays and contributing a set amount automatically each month. By the time November rolls around, your budget will be set.

By following these simple tips, you can avoid the stress of holiday gift spending and, instead, have more time to relax with your friends and family this holiday season.

Anthony Paul is a Financial Advisor with the Global Wealth Management Division of Morgan Stanley in Denver. The information contained in this interview is not a solicitation to purchase or sell investments. Any information presented is general in nature and not intended to provide individually tailored investment advice.  The views expressed herein are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect the views of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, or its affiliates. Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, member SIPC.

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