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By Alex Fishman - December 20, 2018
The end of the holiday season may not seem like the right time to talk about your finances. But how you manage your holiday expenses this year can be a window into how you manage your overall financial plan.
The 2018 Holiday Outlook from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC's latest survey1 reported that consumers will spend 5 percent more this holiday season than last year. Tack that bill onto routine monthly expenses and the extra costs that always come at year-end (such as property taxes), and your finances could have a shaky start to 2019.
Even if you don't usually budget for the holidays, start tracking your spending while it's still fresh in your mind. As you wrap up your purchases, the extra oversight might help you avoid loading up credit cards or dipping into your investments.
When you're done with your gift giving, entertaining and holiday-related traveling, take the time to record and evaluate your spending, even if it's just an estimate. Was it too much? Will it affect any planned purchases or regular expenses in 2019? How about your existing saving and investing plan? Would you have done anything differently?
Then, consider how a budget—for the 2019 holidays and your 2019 finances—might give you a different perspective on your spending for the coming year.
Budgeting is the foundation for financial planning. Think about it: It's the primary way you can affect your own financial success. You can't control the financial markets, but you do control how much you spend, and how much you save.
Each dollar you save today has the chance to grow and compound over time. We're not suggesting canceling your gift-giving traditions! A gift here and there won't make much of a difference, just like daily fluctuations in the financial markets won't ruin your future.
But your total spending and saving patterns will set you up for financial success—or financial stress.
First, it's important to know what you're budgeting for—short-term goals like holiday spending or far-off goals like retirement or college. Our Future Value Calculator can help you determine how much to set aside for a long-term goal, and the Planning for Your Retirement tool dives into more specifics as you approach retirement.
Armed with a clear vision of your goals and an estimate of the amount you'll need, examine your everyday finances.
We generally believe clients should have three to six months' worth of emergency savings in a bank account or other relatively low-risk account. There are a number of ways to boost your emergency fund.
Investing, rather than saving, has the potential to grow your money over time, at a greater rate than a bank savings account. But it also involves the risk that your investments will decrease in value during market fluctuations.
Need help getting started? Contact us, or find out more about investing for any goal.
For more in-depth portfolio reviews and wealth management services, our Private Client Group offers exclusive access to customized advice and a dedicated service team.
1 As of December 2018. https://www.pwc.com/us/en/industries/retail-and-consumer-products/2018-holiday-outlook.html
The results of the Investment Planner tool are based solely on the information you provided in response to the questions. The results are limited to an asset allocation model and a mutual fund that are suitable for your investing profile and risk tolerance. The results do not account for additional investments you may currently own. As your financial circumstances or goals change, you should update the information in the Investment Planner tool. In applying the results to your situation, you should consider any potential tax implications.
We can help you get started. Contact us to find out more about budgeting and investing for any goal.
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The opinions expressed are those of American Century Investments (or the portfolio manager) and are no guarantee of the future performance of any American Century Investments' portfolio. This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal or tax advice.
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