PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Here in Central Illinois, car loans are on the rise and consumers are starting to plan for the holidays even with the pandemic in mind.

Rockie Zeigler is the founder & certified financial planner for RP Zeigler Investment Services, Inc. On Thursday, he said it’s important to have an open and honest conversation while also being realistic about your financial situation.

  1. “It’s more important than ever to have an emergency fund to cover expenses should someone lose their source of income. I say this because the future has always been uncertain, however, it’s much more uncertain these days.”
  2. “In regard to investing, know exactly how much risk you’re taking. Back in March when stocks incurred their fastest bear market of all time, it really exposed the risky investments. Nothing wrong with a high-risk investment, just be aware of the potential for losses.”
  3. “If you had a vacation or event planned that was canceled, use those funds you were going to save! It’s not a lot of fun, but if you can save some extra money right now you’ll really be happy you did in case the economy doesn’t heal the way many of us think it will.”

Smart About Money, a financial education nonprofit, shares the top tips for the best holiday spending:

Set a Budget

Start with creating a budget that works with your plan and your wallet. Write a list of all the people you want to buy for and set a dollar amount for each person. (Don’t forget smaller items such as stocking stuffers.) Your list might include:

  • Family members
  • Friends and neighbors
  • Co-workers
  • Service professionals (mail carriers, trash collectors, hairdressers)
  • Your children’s friends and teachers

Be Selective

Once you have purchased a gift for someone, cross them off your list. Avoid adding last-minute impulse items just to make your gift seem more meaningful.

Do Your Research

Make sure you know when and where the best deals will be.

  • If a big-ticket electronics item is on your list, check prices online before heading to the store. Some retailers offer coupons and special deals on their websites.
  • For items priced around $100 or less, the best specials might be the week before Christmas.
  • Search through circulars in the holiday papers and look for coupons on the Internet before tearing through the stores on big sale weekends.

Resist Temptation

Buy what you came for—then leave. Also, don’t worry about stores selling out of items. Most likely you will be able to find a similar gift somewhere else—perhaps even cheaper.

Skip the Store and Shop Online

You’ll save on gas, parking fees, and child care, and you can shop any time day or night. Just make sure you:

Factor in Extras

Beware the hidden costs of the holidays. Gift wrap, holiday cards, wrapping supplies, and mailing costs all add to the price of your gifts.

Pay with Cash

Leave the credit cards at home and only spend as much cash as you have allotted in your budget. This is the best way to stay within your holiday spending budget. If you don’t have the cash, you can’t afford it.

Consider Alternatives

There may be less expensive gifts that can be just as meaningful as store-bought items. Consider these alternatives:

  • Handmade gifts such as crafts, baked goods, or music playlists.
  • Instead of giving gifts to friends, arrange a potluck dinner or dessert gathering. You’ll be surprised at how many people will appreciate the money savings and the time together.
  • Secret Santa: Ask the adult relatives in your family to buy one big gift for a select person rather than everyone buying gifts for everyone else. Each person chooses a name out of a hat and buys only one gift.

More about RP Zeigler Investment Services, Inc

RP Zeigler Investment Services, Inc. is a Registered Investment Adviser offering advisory services in the State of Illinois and in other jurisdictions where exempted. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. The presence of this website on the Internet shall not be directly or indirectly interpreted as a solicitation of investment advisory services to persons of another jurisdiction unless otherwise permitted by statute. Follow-up or individualized responses to consumers in a particular state by RP Zeigler Investment Services, Inc. in the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation shall not be made without our first complying with jurisdiction requirements or pursuant an applicable state exemption. All written content on this site is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of RP Zeigler investment Services, Inc. unless otherwise specifically cited.  Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources and no representations are made by our firm as to another parties’ informational accuracy or completeness.  All information or ideas provided should be discussed in detail with an advisor, accountant or legal counsel prior to implementation.