Avoid Holiday Debt This Year
The holiday season is the most wonderful time of year for many, yet it can also become the most expensive. Don’t let financial stress put a damper on your holiday cheer. We’re here to help with tips to sustain your holiday spirit without blowing your budget.
Make a List
And check it twice! The best place to start building your holiday budget is creating a comprehensive list of all holiday-related expenses. Include every type of holiday spending you can think of, from gifts and giftwrap, holiday cards, and décor, to travel expenses and groceries for your holiday meals and gatherings. Creating an all-inclusive list will ensure no surprise expenses creep up on you.
Set Spending Limits
Create a limit for your holiday spending and stick to it. Review the list of expenses you created and allot an amount for each portion of your overall holiday spending. Once you’ve set your spending limits, don’t spend more on a category than you have designated. Setting limits and sticking to them will help you keep your holiday spending in check. Our free Money Manager tool in Digital Banking is a great tool to create a budget and track your spending.
The holiday season should be about making memories, not spending money. You know your budget better than anyone else. If money is a little tighter this year, don’t feel pressured to spend more than you are able to and risk racking up holiday debt to appease your loved ones. They will understand if gifts need to be more minimal this year. Avoid any unwanted gift-giving guilt by discussing gift expectations with your family before the holidays arrive.
Track Your Spending
Once you’ve got your holiday budget set, track your purchases for each of the spending categories. Cross items off of your list as your purchase them so you can see how many purchases you still have to make. Make note of your purchase amounts as well when updating your list, so you can see if you are sticking to the budget you created. Make adjustments accordingly if needed, but be sure not to exceed your overall budget. You can even set up e-Alerts to be notified each time you use your Robins Financial debit and credit cards. Being alerted of your spending activity will make you more mindful of how many purchases you make and help keep you on track with your holiday budget.
Pay with Cash
When possible, pay with cash for any in-store purchases you make. Putting all your purchases on credit cards and even debit cards makes it easier to get carried away and overspend, as the money isn’t actively leaving your account or your hand in the moment. Using a cash-only system helps you stick to your pre-determined spending limits.
Shopping online can save you time and money compared to shopping in-store. Shopping online allows you to comparison shop across multiple websites to find the best holiday deals and affordable prices. You can search for coupons and even set alerts to be notified when items on your list go on sale so you know you’re getting the best price. Just remember to start your online shopping sooner rather than later and factor in shipping to ensure you’ll receive your gifts in time.
Search for Sales
Take advantage of all the sales leading up to the holidays, like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and more. You may be able to find even better deals than you were hoping for! Many of the sales are available both in-store and online, so you’re sure to save no matter your shopping preference. Be aware that sometimes, certain items go on an even better sale in the days or weeks leading up to the major sales. So if you’re eyeing a particular item as opposed to overall savings, you may come out better keeping track of the sale prices and buying before the major sales roll around.
Cash in Rewards
If you have a rewards credit card that you use regularly throughout the year, the holidays are a perfect time to cash in on those rewards. Most credit card lenders offer commodities that can come in handy for everyone this time of year, including cash back, gift cards, and discounts on travel. You can use cash back to help you pay down your credit card balance and free up more room in your budget if needed. Travel discounts such as discounts on gas or better rates on hotel and other travel accommodations can make your holiday travel that much smoother. Use your credit card rewards to purchase gift cards to act as last-minute gifts or stocking stuffers, or use them for your own holiday shopping to help you stay within budget. Using your rewards can absorb some of the impact of holiday spending.
At Robins Financial Credit Union, our mission is to enhance the financial well-being of our members and community. We honor this commitment by providing educational content to help you make the most of your finances. Read our other blog articles to help you gain the financial knowledge you need to succeed.