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You’ve been eagerly awaiting the end-of-year holidays and all the excitement that comes with them, from the sparkling decorations and stacks of gifts to the family reunions and home-cooked meals. And now, they’re finally here!
But amid all the festivities, it can be easy to forget that it’s your last chance to make progress on your financial goals. Now is the perfect time to nail down those last few to-dos so you can add your financial wellbeing to the list of things you have to celebrate.
1. Do Holiday Budget Damage Control
You’ve probably been in high-spending mode since November, meaning your holiday budget may be nothing but a good intention by now. The good news: You can still turn things around. These tips can help you recover your holiday budget, and even recoup some cash in the home stretch of the gift-buying season. And if you’re looking to make some extra money to help offset your spending, try one of these quick ways to make extra money during the holidays.
2. Max Out Your Employee Benefits
With the closing of another calendar year comes a lot of deadlines, including those for your employee benefits. Make sure you’re not leaving money on the table — whether that means using up flexible spending account money, upping your retirement contributions to take advantage of a company match, or taking a year-end vacation to use up PTO days that can’t roll over or be paid out.
3. Wrap Up Holiday Shopping
Avoid the chaotic shopping malls and costly impulse purchases by knocking out your holiday shopping early. Without the last-minute panic, you’ll be less likely to buy things you don’t need or fall for so-called deals that aren’t really worth it. And keep in mind Friday, December 14 — that’s Free Shipping Day, aka the day where hundreds of retailers waive shipping minimums and guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve. Still need some gift inspiration? Check out our gift guide and, while you’re planning your holiday shopping budget, don’t forget to set aside funds for the people you want to tip this season.
4. Earmark Your Year-End Bonus
If you’re expecting a nice addition to your paycheck this month in the form of a bonus, think about where you want that extra cash to go. You may be tempted to put it all toward the latest iPhone or a tropical vacation, but you may want to consider the 90/10 rule when it comes to this type of mini windfall. Funnel 90% to your financial goals (like paying off a credit card balance or establishing your emergency fund) and treat yourself to a fun (but reasonable) splurge with the remaining 10%. And if you’re still trying to lock that bonus down, these tips can help you ace your year-end performance review.
5. Celebrate Your 2018 Wins
Already in the 2019 mindset? Not so fast. Take some time to reflect on all you accomplished in 2018. Maybe you didn’t reach every goal you set out to, but we’re guessing you did a lot more than you’re giving yourself credit for. So pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you put in over these last 12 months, and then think about what you want to accomplish in the next 12. That way, you can hit the ground running come January 1.