Inflation Survival Guide: Holiday Edition

One expert suggested setting realistic holiday expectations with your family and then creating a budget


Thanksgiving gatherings next week mark the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season, and with money stretched and prices rising, you’re probably worried about how you’re going to pay for it all this year. 

Decorations and donations, presents and parties, and all that celebrating comes at a price. Chances are,  you likely have financial concerns this year.

 “Honestly, I think that the first person to bring this up in the family will probably be doing a lot of people a favor,” said Certified Financial Planner Misty Lynch.

Now is the time to speak up and scale back.

 “When the price of eggs has gone up 40%, like everybody's feeling this, it's not unique to one person,” said Lynch, owner of Sound View Financial Advisors LLC.   “ I think now is a really good opportunity to start that conversation and maybe ask, you know, how are you managing things mom and dad, you know, things have gotten more expensive.”

Set realistic holiday expectations with your family and then create a budget,  assign a gift amount to each person you’re buying for and stick to it.

“Maybe you have to be more creative with gifts,” Lynch said.    “Maybe it's not the most expensive thing, but maybe you buy a bottle of wine and you find the best one you could find under $15.  And it ends up being great, but you might have to do a little more homework, that’s fine.”

If you’re hosting a holiday gathering, go potluck and if you’re attending one, but money is tight,  offer up your time.

“You want to maybe contribute in a way, but you can't buy anything or bring anything, maybe you can offer to, you know, come early and watch the kids or bring a game or do something else to kind of contribute,” suggested Lynch.

What host wouldn’t love help with the dishes?

Getting a head start on your shopping will help you spread out your cash flow.

You can also try to boost your holiday budget, by cutting back on discretionary spending.  Skip the take-out dinners or daily coffee shop stops. 

Cash in on credit card rewards and dig out those gift cards that have been collecting dust.

“We found that about half of us are sitting on unused gift cards,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at  “The average per person is $175.  And across the economy, this adds up to about $21 billion.  The point is, this is real money. I actually think this is a really good inflation-busting tactic. Use these unused gift cards... I would build this strategy into your holiday shopping.”

And Massachusetts has a 90% redemption rule when it comes to gift cards.

“In Massachusetts, you can actually cash out unused amounts under $5 or if you've used at least 90% of the initial value,” said Rossman.  “ So if you had $100 gift card and you spent, let's say, $91, you can actually get that $9 left cashed out at the register.”

And, don’t be afraid to do things differently this year.

“I talked to somebody who said that they... had this like epic snowball fight where snowballs were piled in different places and the kids had to go find them,” said Lynch.  “That costs's creative, and I think that that's how memories kind of get made.”

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