Use A Spreadsheet To Plan Your Gifts

This professor of finance proposes you take all the fun out of wildly overspending on last-minute gifts for friends and family, and replace it with the measured, predictable joy of a spreadsheet. However, if you follow his advice, the odds will be much better that you’ll end the year with healthier checking and credit card accounts.

First, fire up the spreadsheet and list everyone you can think of that you might want to give a gift to.

“Beside each person on your list, categorize them as an A, B, or C recipient. The A-list includes the people you must buy a gift for, such as parents, significant others, and children. The Bs are other close family and friends and the Cs are friends, colleagues and those who merit a gift for their hard work helping you in one form or another. Everyone else goes on the holiday card list.”

Then, of course, develop a reasonable budget:

Spending is one area where we should all strive to be below average, especially if our income is below average or money is tight. Clearly, the amount you decide to spend should be representative of your income. One percent of your annual income is a good upper limit to set on holiday gift spending because there will be other costs such as travel during this time that will further strain your budget. For example, a family with an annual income of $60,000 should limit their gift budget to $600.

Make sure your dollar amounts on your spreadsheet don’t exceed that 1% figure, and adjust as necessary, booting C-level recipients to the card list.

Funny, he doesn’t mention anything about saving money by re-gifting. Maybe he equates that with kiting checks or something.

“Personal Finance 101 with H. Swint Friday” [The Caller-Times]