For many families, holiday shopping may lead to a home full of toys, closets stuffed with today's trends, and tech-savvy games and devices, some of which will be loved for months and others that will be tossed aside before they've actually been paid for. Worse yet, if you use a credit card for the gifts you purchase and you cannot pay it off when the bill comes in, you'll actually be spending a lot more than you may realize.
This year, instead of setting yourself up for potential frustration and financial stress, take a step back and plan your approach for gifts that have the endurance for a longer and more valued shelf life. Holiday shopping is an opportunity to stay or get on track for smart spending habits while also enjoying the pleasure that you and your gift recipients have when opening the treasure that you've selected.
To help, here are five steps from MassMutual to consider:
1. Look at that holiday gift list that you or your children or grandchild have carefully crafted, and think about what they need and what they indicated they want.
2. Develop a budget and stick to it.
3. Do your research.
4. Cross reference what you've found and learned through your research with your holiday gift list.
5. If you're lucky, the total will be under or at the budget limit you set for your holiday shopping.
Available at no cost to schools across the United States, similar tips on developing smart spending habits are part of a new FutureSmart digital financial education curriculum developed specifically for middle school students in English and Spanish by the MassMutual Foundation in partnership with education technology leader EverFi, with an overall goal of impacting two million students by 2020.
The FutureSmart program was launched in 2014 and brings critical financial education to students across the United States. More than 300,000 students have already benefited from the FutureSmart program through FutureSmart Challenges–interactive events at NBA arenas – and a pilot version of the digital FutureSmart program. The results: students' financial knowledge increased by an average of 52% after completing the course, based on pre- and post-assessment data collected in the 2015-2016 academic year.
"Consistent with our focus on guiding people on their journey in life and assisting them in finding the best financial path at every age, the FutureSmart program has been addressing a pressing and growing need as it empowers students to become stewards of their financial futures," said Gareth Ross, MassMutual Chief Customer Officer and a member of the MassMutual Foundation Board of Directors. "With the launch of this exciting new digital program, we have the opportunity to reach youth during the formative middle school years when they are establishing lifelong habits."
Young people face an overwhelming number of complex financial decisions, yet research shows they lack the knowledge needed to make sound choices.
"The future is exciting and, at the same time, the uncertainty of what's ahead can be overwhelming," said Ross. "By learning how to make smart money decisions early, young people can achieve the financial well-being needed to build a more confident and secure future."