The holiday season is fast approaching with its seasonal cheer, indulgent food, and, of course, bank-breaking spending. With gifts, outings, and travel all mounting up it can be hard to keep your finances in check. We want to help you avoid the post-holiday blues with the following tips to keep from overspending this holiday season.
- Plan ahead—If you have set aside some savings in a holiday fund, like our Holiday Savings Club Account, congratulations, you’re ahead of the game. You have a default budget that won’t impact your monthly discretionary funds. If you haven’t started saving yet, it may be a little late for this season, but the holidays will be coming back around again before you know it. Take advantage of that knowledge by saving throughout the year so that you have a comfortable holiday fund to spend next time around.
- Make a budget (and stick to it)—The first step to making sure you don’t overspend is finding out how much you can afford. Look at your finances and pick an amount that you feel comfortable spending. Don’t cut into your emergency savings. The holidays are not an emergency! Be realistic with your budget. Make budgets for gifts, decorations, travel, personal shopping, and entertainments so that nothing slips by. Divide each category up as needed to determine how much you should spend on each gift, party, trip, etc.
- Use frequent flyer miles—One of the biggest expenses you may face is a plane ticket home. It’s great to visit family for the holidays, but not if it breaks the bank. For a more budget-friendly option try to use miles, points, or miles + cash to pay for tickets. Also, avoid the highest price travel windows, including mid-day flights and dates directly around the holidays.
- Rethink your gifting habits—Generosity is synonymous with the holiday season, but don’t let that overwhelm your budget. Think about alternatives to high priced gifts, like handmade presents and inexpensive but meaningful items. If you’re crafty you can make something yourself that will give that extra special touch. For those craft-averse, check out shops like Etsy and Shutterfly that can create ornaments, calendars, and mementos out of photos.
- Spend time, not money—The holidays should be about spending time with friends and family. If you’re struggling to come up with a present this year, consider gifting some quality time instead. Plan an activity that you can share and cherish for years to come. Setup a picnic with family. Arrange a ball game with your siblings. Avoid expensive outings that require pricey entry tickets.
- Be careful with your credit cards—Don’t get so carried away with the holiday spirit that you max out those credit cards. In fact, many people exhibit smarter spending habits when they use cash instead of plastic. If you’re one of those people, withdraw cash for your shopping so that you will have a physical reminder of how much you have left, and you won’t be tempted to go over budget.
The holidays should be joyous and not stressful! With a little preparation, even the tightest budget can enjoy the festivities and come through unscathed.