AICPA offers financial planning advice for holiday shopping

With disposable income especially tight this holiday season, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers consumers the following tips to help them manage their finances during the next few weeks of shopping. These practices will benefit them year round.

1: Develop a Budget

Plan a budget that is appropriate for your financial situation. You will need to identify your current monthly income and expenses, which will guide your spending for the holiday season. It is important that once you create a budget you stick with it. (contributed by Michael Schulman, CPA/PFS, Schulman Co. PC, New York)

2: Cash is King

Try to use cash when doing your shopping. Credit cards allow you to spend money you do not necessarily have. (contributed by Michael Eisenberg, CPA/PFS, Los Angeles)

3: Comparison Shop

Once you have that holiday list, be an educated shopper and compare prices. You might be able to save $20, $30 or more if you find the same product online or at another store. You might have to invest some time into shopping, but in the long run it will save you in the wallet. (contributed by Irv Diamond, CPA/PFS, REDW LLC, Albuquerque, NM)

4: Be Practical, Be Creative

  • Spend Christmas volunteering at a soup kitchen, hospital or nursing home, for example.
  • Don't exchange gifts with adults. Adults should understand financial limitations more readily.
  • Rather than have everyone buy gifts for every child, pick names to limit the number of gifts.
  • Consider more personal gifts: photographs, things you made yourself, things of sentimental value.
  • Give the gift of time: get together with the people you love.
  • Consider gift certificates for your time or services.

(contributed by Adele Brady Bolson, CPA, Bellevue, WA)

5: Do Additional Research

Check out the AICPA's Web sites, www.360financialliteracy.org and www.feedthepig.org, for free tools, articles, and resources to help you better plan your financial future.

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