6 Holiday Spending Styles – Which One Is Yours?


How do you decide (if you decide) what to spend at the holidays, and on whom? When I first earned my own real money at the age of 15, I made a list and a budget for each person on it. Yikes – a few years later in my 20s, I looked at the list of names, each with a dollar sign beside them, and felt awful. So then I made a “total” budget, and tried to keep track as I went along on how I was doing. Yet that didn’t work very well, since I could always find an excuse to break the budget on something to keep it “fair.” I didn’t know it, but I was operating under one of six spending styles, one involving “status.” In other words, I was too concerned what other people would think about my spending decisions, and as a result, I spent too much.

Let’s look at 5 other spending styles and how they apply during the holidays.

Security – If you spend very little on others, and on yourself, because you are concerned you may need it for an emergency, you might have this spending style. You might do the bare minimum necessary to get invited back to next year’s turkey dinner. Or you might find other ways to celebrate than spending money.

Idealist – If you reject the materialism of the holidays, then you might give everyone something home-made, like cookies, or your own artistic creation. You have the hardest time of all styles making a spending plan, because you despise handling money matters.

Spontaneous – This style can’t wait to see what great ideas are presented to you by retailers. Perhaps you make a spending plan, but you have a tough time sticking to it because of all the fun temptations and opportunities to purchase the “perfect” gifts.

Caretaker – You see gift-giving as a way to show how much you care about people, so your spending plan might be more generous than other spending styles (but hopefully not more generous than is financially wise).

Goal-Oriented – Your most important concern is staying within your spending plan. It may take you longer to get your shopping done in order to find the right gift-cost combinations.

You may find you exhibit a combination of any or all of these, and that is not a bad thing. The key is not to take one style to an extreme. If you can make a spending plan that is wise for your situation, shows your love and affection for others, and still allows for some guilt-free spontaneity, you have probably found the style that will indeed bring you, and those you care about, lots of joy this holiday season.

Holly Donaldson

Holly Donaldson, CFP® runs an hourly and fee-for-service financial planning practice virtually from her Tampa Bay, Florida office. She also works with clients throughout the U.S. (except Texas) interested in retirement and tax planning advice without product sales or investment management. Holly is the author of The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future (Porchview Publishing, 2013) and publisher of the award-winning monthly e-letter, "The View From the Porch."

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