Holiday Tips

Today TaxMama wants to talk about holiday spending.

It’s so easy to go overboard.
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I mean, really easy. I just went into a store the other day and picked up an assortment of cute things, none of them very expensive – and was shocked to see $172 show up on the register. So, here are some ideas, if you’re still doing your shopping, at the last minute, like many of us.

Business gifts are still limited to the incredibly generous sum of $25 per person, per year. Of course, you can stretch that by giving gifts to several people in the office or company. When you record the gift on your books, separate the cost of wrapping, engraving and shipping, and sales tax – and that will increase your $25 limit to a deduction of perhaps $50 for the same item.

For all shopping, carry a small calculator with a memory function. As you drop things into your shopping cart, compute the cost, with sales tax – and add it to the sum stored in the memory. Recall the memory as you go along to see how much you’re spending.

Seeing that amount may get you to rethink all those little purchases and help you focus on finding one substantial present for each person instead. It might be more appreciated.

Carry a list. Know whom you need to shop for and how much your overall spending limit is.
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You don’t want to spend so much that it will take all year to pay back. Remember, there are more holidays, birthdays and other reasons for gifts. You don’t want to be paying for them for years to come. The stress isn’t worth it.

And when you have to decide whom to cut off your list? Remember those people who never said ‘thank you’ or acknowledged your gift. Even children. If they can’t be bothered to be considerate of you – should you be spending money on them? I remember how shocked and charmed I was the first time my niece called and said she wanted to take me out for my birthday. Hey, even kids should be thoughtful! A good habit to learn.

If you want to get something really, really expensive and special for someone – give them a lovely card with an IOU – and buy that item in the after Christmas sales. After all, if you can save 0 or more on sale, getting the same item, do you think they’ll mind waiting a day or so?

Not if they love you!

And remember, the gift of time is precious. Rather than buying a present they don’t really need – give them a card redeemable for a day with them. Perhaps a day of chores. Or a day just together. When was the last time you just spent time alone with your mom, or dad, or any of your children. Each child, each person needs some alone time where they are the center of your attention. It costs nothing in dollars – but will stand out in their memories.

Have a wonderful holiday. And remember to be nice to yourself, too.

And, remember, you’ll find answers to questions about money and all kinds of tax issues, free.

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