Holiday Gift Guide: Is a Budget on Your List?

Holiday Gift Guide:

Is a Budget on Your List?

As 2020 rolls on, many households have changed how they spend and save. That might include upcoming holiday spending as well. 

How you manage your holiday expenses can be a window into how you manage your overall financial plan. Want to start fresh in 2021? Give yourself the gift of a budget.

Track This Year's Holiday Spending

Even if you don't usually budget for the holidays, start tracking your spending while it's still fresh in your mind. As you plan your purchases, the extra oversight might help you avoid loading up credit cards or dipping into your savings.

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 next year? How about your existing saving and investing plan—would you have done anything differently?

Then, consider how a budget—for next year’s holidays and your overall finances—might give you a different perspective on spending.

Budget = Financial Control

Budgeting is the foundation for financial planning. 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.

How a Budget Supports Your Financial Goals

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 our other retirement tools  dive into more specifics as you approach retirement.

1. Budget

Armed with a clear vision of your goals and an estimate of the amount you'll need, examine your everyday finances.

  • List your sources of income, and subtract basic living expenses and debt payments.
  • Compare what's left with the amount you've calculated for your goals.
  • Evaluate how much you want to use for discretionary spending versus saving it for your future.

2. Save

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.

  • Take steps to curb spending on nonessentials.
  • Switch to cash for certain expenses to avoid the temptation of credit cards.
  • Pay off debt to ensure more of your money goes to you rather than interest payments.

3. Invest

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.

  • Take advantage of your employer's retirement plan, including any matching contributions.
  • Consider automatic investments in other accounts. Small amounts each month can add up during your lifetime.
  • Consult a trusted financial advisor to find the right investment options for your goals, time frame and tolerance for risk.

This Year, Give Yourself the Gift of a Budget

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.

Give Yourself the Gift of a Budget

We can help you get started. Contact us to find out more about budgeting and investing for any goal.

Investment return and principal value of security investments will fluctuate. The value at the time of redemption may be more or less than the original cost. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

You could lose money by investing in a mutual fund, even if through your employer's plan or an IRA. An investment in a mutual fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency.

Private Client Group advisory services are provided by American Century Investments Private Client Group, Inc., a registered investment advisor. This service is generally for clients with a minimum $50,000 investment. Call us to determine the level of service that is appropriate for you. The advisory service provides discretionary investment management for a fee. All investing involves risk.

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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