Financial expert on how to start preparing for the holiday shopping season

The holiday season will be here before we know it. A financial expert recommends planning your vacation finances now.

Finance professional Ryan Wheless of Allied Wealth appeared on KPRC 2+ to share advice on how to prepare financially for the holiday shopping season. For her insights, watch the video at the top of the page or read her tips below.

Q: HOW CAN OUR HOLIDAY EXPENSES AFFECT OUR OVERALL FINANCIAL POSITION?

· It can play an important role in our financial situations. In 2021, Americans spent $886.7 billion during the holiday season.

· Many of us are still recovering from the financial strains caused by the pandemic. We may not have as much money for vacations as we once did. Don’t go into holiday shopping debt.

· Debt prevents people from achieving their financial goals – such as building an emergency fund, buying a home, and saving for retirement.

· A huge concern for retirees is running out of money, and having debt amplifies this fear. At Allied Wealth, we give our clients the assurance that their retirement savings will last.

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Q: WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE TO START PLANNING FOR CHRISTMAS IN JULY?

1. Put pen to paper

· When it comes to our finances, always budget.

· Start by writing down who you want to buy presents for.

· Fill in gift ideas and, most importantly, an expense amount for each person on your list.

· Then double check it! When you go out shopping, be sure to stick to your budget.

· You may need to cut from one location if you are going to another.

· I have a vacation budget spreadsheet on my website, alliedwealth.com.

2. Savings on inventory

· Now that you know how much you want to spend, here’s the tough question: Have you saved any money? Or do you rely on your credit cards?

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· If you don’t have the funds, here’s the good news: you have four months to save.

· Look for areas in your overall budget where you can reduce. If you can find a way to put aside $25 a week, you’ll be in much better shape over the holidays.

3. Leave your savings alone

· As the dollars start to pile up, resist the temptation to spend that money on anything other than holiday gifts.

· I recommend that you place your savings in a separate account dedicated solely to your holiday shopping budget.

· The same principle applies to your emergency fund – you should have three to six months of expenses set aside for emergencies.

· You may also want separate accounts for a vacation fund, a new car, or anything else you’re saving for!

4. Negotiate a gift exchange

· Family dynamics are going to be different for everyone. If you’re part of a growing family or facing financial constraints, it may be time to readjust gift expectations.

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· You will have to do what is best for your situation. For example, large families can draw names and buy only one gift. Some families may buy presents for the children and leave out the adults.

· Whatever your situation, it is essential to talk about it as soon as possible. Waiting to have the conversation could backfire if someone has already bought their presents.

BONUS TIP: Use your RMDs

· Here’s a bonus tip for retirees: you can set your required minimum distributions to buy gifts for grandkids or other family members and friends.

If you’re over 70 1/2, your deadline for withdrawing money from your 401(k) or IRA is probably the end of the year, and holiday gifts are a great utility for your RMDs if you don’t need the money for living expenses.

· You can also use your RMD for charitable donations.

· Speak to your financial advisor to determine the amount you need to withdraw and your deadlines.

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