Planning for a financially sound holiday

Question: How do you choose your gifts?

Advice: Holiday spending plan -- working with a top price in mind for each gift, rather than thinking of the perfect gift and finding out what it costs. Including all the costs of Christmas, and then deciding if that's what you want to spend, or do you need to bring all the categories down in size. Download a Holiday Spending Plan worksheet here (PDF).

Question: Do your children get allowances and what do they use them for?

Advice: Shutting down the national bank of Mom and Dad. Children should use their allowance money for things they want. If they don't have it with them, don't cover it for them... you become a creditor. Have them spend some, save some and donate some of their allowances.

Question: When do you start shopping for Christmas?

Advice: Start shopping now to avoid the Christmas energy rush. The closer to Christmas you get, the more pressure you feel to "just get it done" no matter what the cost. Planning ahead usually means spending less.

Question: If you're thinking of spending less on Christmas this year, what are you saying to your kids about it?"

Advice: How do you communicate the smaller Christmas you may be envisioning. Avoid the phrase, "We can't afford it." Communicate that you're making other choices with the money right now... shows mastery and communicates that there's always enough. It's about the choices we make with it.

Question: How do you handle your son or daughter wanting a gift that's outside of your price limit?

Advice: Expensive gifts for your kids: If your kids want a gift that's outside of your budget for them, and that's all they want, consider having them come up with matching funds. Items that they are invested in are less likely to be lost, be stolen, or otherwise go unused because their money is involved.

About Susan Bross:
Susan Bross is a nationally accredited financial counselor who in 1993 established her private practice, currently located in San Rafael, California. She brings a multi-faceted background and combination of skills to her work - with a BA in psychology, 15 years experience in marketing and finance, 4 years as an addictions counselor. As a financial counselor, she works with individuals, couples and entrepreneurs throughout nation to help her clients develop a practical and emotionally healthy relationship with money.

She is passionate about this work because it mirrors her own hard-won path with money. She went to classes and free seminars, spoke with financial planners and tax advisors, and finally found her way to an effortless money life. Having achieved her goal, she was amazed at the change in how she felt about herself and how her stance toward the world improved. From that time on, Ms. Bross has felt compelled to help others find their own way to this same confidence and power.

Ms. Bross teaches simple tools for effortless and sustainable cash flow and money management, and guides her clients to balanced attitudes and beliefs about money and success. She is accredited through the national Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education.

You can contact Susan Bross by phone at 415.479.1290 or e-mail her at Visit her Web site at

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