Do you want to achieve your financial goals while enjoying the holidays? Read more.
Many people made important economic decisions in early 2021 – and almost as many people spend the last month of the year wondering which of these resolutions they can still implement. Is it possible to put extra money into your emergency fund and still set aside money for holiday expenses? Do you need to consider a seasonal job or a side job? Are there any tax deductions you can take advantage of? How about other overlooked ways to make and save money?
We asked a team of experts at the beginning of the year to help us make our financial decisions, and asked them to help us monitor our progress earlier this fall. Now we've asked the same financial experts what people can do to make another last-minute push to reach their financial goals for 2021.
It's important to note that you may not be able to achieve all of your outstanding financial decisions before the year is over. end – especially if you are saving money for the holidays. "It's very difficult to save for two competing goals," explains Jim Wang, founder of WalletHacks. That said, it's still possible to achieve at least one goal before the end of the year, whether you're hoping to expand your emergency fund, stick to a gift budget, or put $ 1,000 extra into your savings account on December 31.
Here's what you need to know.
In this article:
Prioritize your emergency fund
Some financial decisions may wait until next year – but if you are trying to prioritize an individual financial goal to achieve by the end of 2021, focus on your crisis fund
"It's important to continue building a crisis fund if you do not yet have one that is adequately funded, even during the holidays," said Grant Sabatier, co-founder of Bank Bonus and author of Financial Freedom . "One never knows when an emergency may occur – and during the holidays, with increased travel, there are often more emergencies than at other times of the year."
Wang agrees. "If you have not financed an emergency fund at all, I think it is better to start doing it instead of saving for the holidays." If you will not be able to get through the end of the year without setting aside some money for holiday expenses, Wang suggests that you divide all the money you earn between now and the end of 2021 between your emergency savings fund and your holiday budget.  When it comes to financial planning, you may be wondering how much money you should have in your emergency fund. Many financial experts, including Sabatier, suggest setting aside six months' expenses. "Having six months' expenses saved in cash in a savings account is a fully funded emergency fund and will help you sleep better at night," explains Sabatier.
If you can not get a six-month crisis fund saved by the end of 2021, set aside much you can at the end of the year – and then commit to your goal for the emergency fund 2022. "It helps to save the same amount of money all year round, and any bonuses you get, until you have saved enough", advises Sabatier.
Put a holiday budget
Does saving for the future mean saving the present – or, since the holiday is over, the presents ? Not necessarily.
"It is possible to save for an emergency fund during the holidays if you have created a holiday budget, "says Steffa Mantilla, Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and founder of Money Tamer." Because everyone's finances are different, set up a gift budget and stick to it. That way, you will still have extra space in your budget to save money for your emergency fund without everything going to unexpected holiday expenses. ”
Jerry Zeigler, Accredited Financial Counselor® (AFC) and owner of JZ Financial Management, agrees with about. "With inflation and logistics issues, this is a good year to focus more on carefully considered gifts – with a budget." What does Zeigler mean by carefully considered gift? Just what you can imagine. "Quality versus quantity. Not quality as in expensive, but as in a gift choice that suits the recipient well. I call it the careful gift to give."
Sometimes the best gift you can give people is the gift of your time – especially at the end of a year when many of us have spent less time than ever with the people we care about the most. "Friends and family would rather have time with you than have a different light," says Mantilla.You can also give your friends and family gift of not having to buy a gift for you, which may turn out to be exactly what they were hoping for.At the end of the day, setting a solid but fair holiday budget will save you some seasonal credit card debt and bring you closer to your New Year's promise for 2021.
Taking advantage of seasonal employment
“If careful gift giving will still not allow you to give what you want and meet your financial goals, then consider getting a seasonal job or a temporary job to cover the costs. for holiday expenses, says Zeigler. Taking advantage of seasonal employment is a way to earn some extra money during the holidays – and complete the last minute push towards your financial goals for 2021.
But you should be aware that it often comes with signing up for a seasonal job some hidden costs. "Whether you should get a seasonal job or not depends on a time / money calculation," says Sabatier. “Yes, you should get a seasonal job if you want or need more money. But the holiday is often the only time we get to spend extra time with our families, and you can never get that time back. ”
If you want to make extra money while maintaining the type of flexible schedule that allows you to maximize the time you spend with your loved ones, you may want to consider a side job instead of a seasonal job. Although you can always create your own sidebar, Wang suggests using online apps to help you make money fast.
"FieldAgent is an app that lets you perform different tasks in stores for different retailers and brands, such as checking prices and take pictures, "Wang explains. "SteadyApp is an app that takes your information and tells you about side gigs that can offer bonuses – so you get an extra reward when you deliver to DoorDash. It collects information to help you find better gigs."
No matter what type of seasonal work you choose, make sure it fits into your long-term financial goals. For example, if you hope to save money on holiday gifts, working retailers can give you access to both a paycheck and a discount. "Many stores hire seasonal workers for the holidays." , says Mantilla. "You can even get a staff rebate so you can save money on gift purchases." can cost you more than you realize. "Tax write-offs often require you to spend more money, so evaluate them carefully, especially at the end of the year," explains Sab atier. "It does not make sense to have to spend money to save."
That said, there is a tax deduction that you may want to write into your budget. "If you're inclined to donate to charity, this year you can deduct eligible contributions even if you do not specify," says Zeigler. This deduction can be as high as $ 300 for individuals and $ 600 for married couples applying jointly – so keep an eye on your charity contributions if you think they can qualify!
The charity tax deduction is a cross-border deduction, which means it has potential to lower your taxable income – and save even more money. "For a $ 300 tax deduction," Zeigler explains, "if your marginal tax rate is 15%, you save $ 45 in taxes."
Look for unique ways to save money
Want to end 2021 with an extra $ 1 000 in savings? It's possible – if you're looking for unique ways to save and monetize your financial solution.
“One of the best ways to end 2021 with another $ 1,000 in savings is to look at all your expenses and see where you go. can save $ 500, "says Sabatier," and also look for ways to make extra money. "If, for example, you go on vacation, you can rent out your home on Airbnb or VRBO." To earn some extra money, you can get more than you expected in your savings account at the end of the year. "
Mantilla agrees." The fastest way to save money is to assess your budget and make as many cuts as possible. If you are busy during the holiday period, it may make sense to cancel your subscriptions to streaming services until the new year. Then try to work overtime at your job, freelance in the evenings, offer services to your neighbors or pick up a vacation job as a way to earn extra money. Deposit the money directly into your emergency fund and you will reach your goal in no time. ”
There may even be ways to make extra money that you have not thought of – such as registering for bank and broker accounts. "I think the best way to get money relatively quickly is to take advantage of the bonuses that many banks and brokers now offer for new accounts," explains Wang. “Broker bonuses are the fastest, as you can often get free shares almost immediately. Just sell the stock, set aside some for taxes, and then use the rest of the funds for the holidays. ”
Whatever you do to make and save extra money, know why you do it – and know if it means you have to change your way of approaching your finances in 2022. After all, it's soon time to make new financial decisions.
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