Nobody enjoys being a penny-pinching Scrooge. But if you don’t budget appropriately, you can feel the squeeze during the holidays, or worse yet, go into debt and regret it. No matter what traditions you follow, the holidays are a time to celebrate, give thanks, and enjoy time with your loved ones.

Destination Allocation

Whether you plan a weekend getaway to visit friends, a family gathering road trip, a lavish once-in-a-lifetime jet-setting vacation, or you’re looking to see and do as much as you can around town during your downtime from work, don’t make a move without making a budget.

Take inventory of exactly what it will take to pull off your holiday travel plans without a hitch, and price everything from airline tickets and hotel accommodations to luggage, snow tires, and pet boarding. Set your itinerary, allocate the appropriate funds, and prepare for departure with confidence.

Spread the Joy

One of the best ways to boost your holiday spirits and lift the mood of the people around you is to spread joy by giving gifts. Set aside some room in your budget to buy small, thoughtful gifts for friends, coworkers, neighbors, your barber or hairstylist, the mail carrier, Amazon delivery driver, garbage collector — anyone you’d like to show appreciation.

Make a list of people and brainstorm inexpensive ideas for presents. It could be something as simple as a gift card, candle, book, golf tees, or homemade cookies. Plan ahead, so you don’t forget; it’s the thought that counts!

Give Generously

Just because you are prudent with your budget doesn’t mean you can’t give generously. The best gifts are the most meaningful. While the kids are making their lists, speak to them about what would make the holidays feel special. That might mean giving up toys and tech gadgets to make room for a weekend ski trip. It could mean exchanging a few items on your own list for the pricey item your sister can’t afford to give your well-deserving nephew this year.

This might be the year you shift your spending from material items to worthwhile experiences. Perhaps you have the means to give a sizable donation to charity. However you decide to give, if you can, do it with intention and careful planning.

John A. Frisch, CPA/PFS, CFP®, AIF®, PPC™ founded Alliant Wealth Advisors in 1995 and has over 30 years of experience as a financial professional. In his free time, he’s an avid long-distance runner, a sport that requires discipline, patience and vision. John applies these same skills to his professional pursuits: He helps families and retirement plan sponsors adopt a patient, disciplined approach to overcoming financial challenges and reaching their distant goals along a clear path. Learn more at or to read past articles, visit
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