Photo by MART PRODUCTION

If you haven’t had a chance to roast the chestnuts on an open fire because you’re still dashing to the malls, it’s a good time to hunt for bargains. But once you’re back at home and wrapping the last gift, it’s the perfect time to prepare for the next holiday season. That way, you can shop with intention, according to an official with JPMorgan Chase. 

“You have to be within your boundaries when holiday shopping and not overcompensate in spending. A lot of times when shopping, we want to overcompensate for things we never received when we were younger,” said Brian Atkins, Chase’s Skyland Community Manager. “But it’s still possible to give that to your kids without spending a lot of money.”

Atkins advised against spending an entire paycheck on gifts and emphasized the importance of differentiating between a need and a want.  

“Spending your entire paycheck is never a best practice. Once you spend your paycheck, you still have life responsibilities. The best way of shopping is to plan ahead.”

While it’s too late to put healthy financial practices in place this year, now is the perfect time to plan for 2023. 

“We have to first make sure our responsibilities are taken care of,” Atkins said. 

Atkins added that a great exercise is to save receipts for one month to itemize your budget. At the end of the month you can say, ‘did I need to buy this, or was it a want?’ 

“The only way to really enhance your saving is by increasing your income or decreasing your debt,” Atkins said. 

When setting goals for the new year, Atkins said, the key is to have a plan. 

“To me, a New Year’s resolution without a plan is just a dream,” he said.  “Every new year, I have things I say I’m going to do, but if I have no intentionality behind them, sometimes I make it to the end of January or the middle of January, and I am back to my old ways. “

One way to help with planning is by using a vision board because that way you can see your goals every day.

“I have vision boards all around the house, so therefore when I wake up in the morning, I see my goals. When I come home in the afternoon, I see my goals. When I want to purchase stuff on Amazon,  l look at my goals and close my computer,” Atkins said.  “It’s not only about saying you want to do something. It’s having a plan and executing that plan and sticking with it.”

The purpose of the vision board is to illustrate what you would like to see happen in the upcoming year, whether it be a new car, a new home, or a vacation. 

Most importantly when setting goals, you have to create a budget, Atkins said. 

“To really create a budget, you have to know what’s going in and what’s coming out. The receipt exercise seems kind of tedious, but if you’re true to yourself and save every receipt it can have a great impact on future spending. I am not just talking about the large ticket items, save everything. This includes if you cash app or Zelle someone, keep track of every dollar you spend. Then you know what’s coming in and what’s going out,” Atkins said. 

When creating a budget, Atkins suggests that people use the SMART method: Set a specific budget that is, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.  

“Let’s say you’re going on a trip. There is no way to go on a trip unless you know how much it is going to cost,” Atkins said. That is specific.  “There is no way to start unless you know where the end goal is. That makes it measurable. You have to make sure the goal means something to you. You can’t create goals with no intentionality behind them. You can’t save for a boat if you’re scared of water. It has to be relevant. Time-bound is having a finish line for your goal.”

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