Holiday gifts, celebrations, and travels can put a major strain on your finances. But there is a way to help ease the burden. While we do have a few weeks before the holidays, the time to prepare is now. You don’t want to start the new year on the wrong foot financially. To avoid overspending, you need to create a holiday budget plan before you start shopping. Here are eight tips to help you prepare your finances for the holidays now:
- Slash your expenses now. Giving joy to others or spending to see family may mean you need to cut back on pampering yourself now. Decrease how often you are going to the movies, eating out and avoid shopping for yourself.
- Set a budget. Determine how much you want to spend during the holidays and stick to it. Whether it’s through a budgeting tool, spreadsheet, or plain old pen and paper, set a limit and do everything you can to not go over it. Think about what you will actually spend including things like wrapping paper, decor, extra travel, and special foods.
- Reap the credit card rewards. If you have credit cards that offer rewards for spending, check your balance and redeem those points now. You can typically use those reward points for gifts or gift cards. Some credit cards also run special promotions to earn extra points for making grocery purchases or filling up at the gas pump.
- Set Boundaries with family members. While seeing the children’s’ faces as they open gifts is priceless, the cost of that gift is not. Set a limit on how much you will spend on each child to avoid spending too much.
- Shop Smart. Mark your calendar, and start receiving notifications by joining email lists of shops that you frequent to stay informed of upcoming sales. We already know that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are loaded with great sales but don’t forget about Green Monday (2nd Monday in December) and Free Shipping Days (Dec 16) to maximize your holiday spend.
- Save a little each day. Setting aside as little as $25 to $30 each week can help you tremendously. At the end of just eight weeks, your small weekly savings will have grown to a few hundred dollars.
- Give thoughtfully. You don’t have to give the most expensive gift to get the biggest smiles. A well thought out gift can have a huge and lasting impression on someone. You can also consider handmade gifts that you can start to work on now.
- Plan for next year now. With our Christmas Club, you can have automatic deductions taken out of your paycheck throughout the year. By the time the holidays arrive, you will be ready for the extra spending.
Don’t let holiday spending wreak havoc in the new year! Time is flying by, and implementing these tips now will save you financial stress. And if you need help determining how much you can spend and still stay on track financially, we have Member Advisors in our Montebello and Cerritos branch that can help you sort through your finances.