The holidays can have the effect of awakening your clients' "inner Santa," as financial discipline gives way to big spending.

Clients may get swept up in the spontaneity of the season, says Dilys D'Cruz, vice president of community banking at Meridian Credit Union in Toronto. And they may disregard the impact impulsive purchases may have on their finances.

As a financial advisor, you can gently nudge your clients to exercise restraint with their holiday spending. D'Cruz offers suggestions on how you can encourage your clients — even those last-minute holiday shoppers — to be disciplined spenders during the holiday season:

> Share your experiences
Clients may be more receptive if you broach the conversation first by discussing your own holiday plans, D'Cruz says. You can then lead into a talk about holiday budgeting by offering insights into your approach to watching your spending.

Once you have their attention, ask whether they settled on a fixed budget. Encourage them to "put pen to paper," D'Cruz says, to produce a detailed list of the people they intend to shop for. From there, they can set a budget for how much they can reasonably spend on each person.

Establishing a budget first is preferable, she says, rather than fixing their sights on a particular gift. Otherwise, your client could end up overextending themselves.

> Suggest tools
Position yourself as a resource that clients can rely on for guidance — even in ways they might not expect. Small gestures or "touch points," such as suggesting an online budgeting tool or forwarding relevant information, can go a long way toward engendering trust between yourself and your clients.

For example, D'Cruz suggests, you can direct your clients to shopping-deal apps, such as Flipp. This app aggregates flyers from various shops to show the best deals on the items on your list, based on the user's location.

You also can suggest budgeting apps to help them keep track of their spending on the go.

Flipp: iPhone, Android
Cost: Free
https://app.flipp.com/

> Look ahead
For those clients who have already wrapped up their holiday shopping, D'Cruz says, it's never too early to get clients to think about how they can curb their holiday spending for the coming year.

For example, you can suggest they set up an automatic transfer of funds to a savings account each payday. The money deposited in that separate account can be earmarked for the holidays, or other major purchases throughout the year.

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