A survey by the National Retail Federation predicts that Americans will spend almost $1,000 between gifts, food and decorations this holiday season. Holiday spending can add up quickly and cause many Americans to go into credit card and other debt. This can easily be avoided if you start planning now.
Create a Holiday Budget
Creating a budget is one of the best tips you can implement to reduce overspending. While it’s important to try and have a weekly or monthly budget, creating something specifically for holiday spending will help keep you accountable to your financial goals. To get started, you can list out the family and friends you are interested in shopping for along with how much you would like to spend for each person. Keeping this guide in the notes section on your phone can help you keep from splurging on a potential gift you might come across along the way. You can make this budget as simple or detailed as you like — as long as you stick to it, so your account doesn’t feel the winter blues after the New Year.
Automate Your Savings
Plan to set aside a small amount each week or each paycheck just for holiday spending. This can be done manually, or most financial institutions can now automatically have that amount transferred into a separate savings or checking account on a regular basis. Actively setting aside money makes it clear where the money is supposed to be spent. Saving in this way will give you more wiggle room in December and can make the season more enjoyable.
Use Rewards and Points
Do your credit cards or frequent shopping destinations allow you to acquire benefits? This could be the perfect time of year to use them. If not, consider switching to credit cards that allow you to build rewards such as cash back, free gift cards and extra discounts. You might be surprised how many goodies you can buy from points you earned from previous spending. Nothing says holiday cheer quite like free!
Research to Find the Best Deals
With sales like Black Friday being extended for multiple days or weeks, more savings are out there if you do some research. A quick Google search for your gift list or decoration ideas can help you find the best deals. It’s also a good time to sign up for newsletters from retailers you will be shopping at, so you can receive any discounts ahead of the season.
Shuffle Your Expenses
Consider where you currently spend your money on a weekly basis and determine if there are any purchases that can be put on pause or altered until next year. Maybe that means eating one less meal out during the week or making coffee at home instead of stopping by your favorite spot each morning. Little adjustments can add up in big ways – even if the extra saving turns into a holiday gift for yourself.
Written by: Gary Bernard, TruWest Credit Union
Gary Bernard is the Executive Vice President and COO of TruWest® Credit Union. TruWest Credit Union is headquartered in Tempe, Arizona, and operates as a cooperative to provide its members with a lifetime of quality financial services and a culture of caring for its members, employees and communities. TruWest has more than 93,000 members and assets totaling more than $1.3 billion. TruWest® Credit Union has 13 branch locations—nine in Metro Phoenix and four in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit truwest.org.