The S&P closed out a third consecutive week of gains on Friday and is up over 17% year-to-date. We’re also starting to see positive returns from stocks other than the so-called Magnificent Seven, that have driven much of the returns this year. Bonds have also bounced back a little, as the market begins to bet that the Fed will hold interest rates steady for now.
As we head into the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle-and-bustle, and blow your budget to make the holiday special. But the January credit card bill hangover is real, and sometimes extends into February. And as many of us have more things than we know what to do with, creative gift giving can help with storage and your budget.
Giving a membership to a local museum, like Historic Annapolis, The Mitchell Art Museum, or the Maritime Museum can net you a handy tax donation, and provide the recipient with a year of fun activities. For little ones, contributing to activities like sports, dance, music, or art lessons can help the parents and your budget. Gifts to 529 college savings accounts also don’t require any room in the toy closet.
For friends, consider planning a fun outing in lieu of trading gifts. It can be as inexpensive as a walk in the park or grabbing coffee. You may want to pass along books you’ve enjoyed that you think your friend would also like. Homemade meals can be a life-saver during the busy rush of the season. Consider making a special dish that freezes well and delivering that during Christmas week.
If you’re determined to buy gifts for under the tree, make a plan before you head to the store. List each person, and a budget, for their gift. Then, think about what that person would appreciate before you head to the mall and wander aimlessly to find that perfect gift.
For Black Friday, if you’re braving the crowds, make a list of the sale items you want to buy. Many stores position these loss leaders among overpriced items, hoping you’ll pick up the impulse buys when you come in for the low-priced special.
You may also want to bring cash for your shopping trip and leave your credit and debit cards at home. This makes it much harder to blow your budget. Return to your car frequently to drop off packages. It sounds crazy, but when you’re carrying shopping bags already, you’re more likely to purchase something else.
Your action item this week is to review your benefits during open enrollment season. The blog on our website has open enrollment suggestions.
CovingtonAlsina is a registered investment adviser. Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed. Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.