Before you know it, the most magical time of the year and the season to be jolly will be approaching! Although the holidays mean different things to different people, they are generally a time for attending joyful events and celebrating with family and friends. This is also a time for generosity of spirit and meaningful giving.
While gift-giving is an important part of the holiday season, elevated spending can be a challenge to your budget. And many of us know just how rapidly the financial costs of “holiday cheer” can pile up. This year, do not let the season sneak up on you.
By beginning to plan now, you may relieve some financial stress and avoid unnecessary holiday-related debt. Follow the tips below and you can keep your spending under wraps!
Holiday Savings - Set yourself up for success
Although it can be difficult to put extra money away, the holiday season goes a whole lot smoother when you have funds earmarked for it. To make saving easier, it is important to:
- Start early – it is a simple fact that the more time you have, the more money you can save for the holidays. If you haven’t started saving yet, now is the time.
- Set realistic goals – it can seem like there is no end to the amount of money you can spend during the holidays. Avoid this by setting reasonable saving and spending goals that are compatible with your needs and budget.
- Establish a holiday savings account – some banks offer savings accounts specifically tailored for holiday saving and spending. Consider using one of these, but any standard savings account can be designated to help you meet your savings goal.
Holiday Planning - Make a list and check it twice!
- Start with a list of holiday expenses – to effectively manage the cost of the holidays, you must develop an accurate picture of what that entails. Begin the planning process by tabulating the price of each gift you plan to purchase as well as holiday meals, traveling expenses, and charitable donations. Do not forget that the cost of small items, such as gift cards and wrapping paper, can add up over the course of the season.
Tip: Use your mobile device to securely manage your money while your shopping!
- Think outside the gift box – remember that showing your holiday spirit doesn’t have to cost a lot! Consider starting new traditions that reduce the financial burden for everyone. For example, organize a gift exchange among family to reduce how many gifts everyone needs to purchase. Or suggest that in lieu of gifts, your group of friends selects a local charity and everyone donates an amount that fits their personal budget.
Tip: Zelle® makes it simple and secure to send money to friends and family. Use it this holiday season to split the bill, share the cost of presents or send money directly to someone’s account.
- Explore options to save on travel expenses – traveling during the holidays can use up a big chunk of your budget. Plan early to reduce the financial impact of your trip by watching for flight, hotel and car rental deals. Using your frequent flyer miles or credit card rewards is a highly effective money-saving option.
Holiday Budgeting - Spend wisely
- Set a spending limit – while your gift-giving wish list might be infinite, your gift purchases should adhere to your budget restrictions. Determine your total spending limit first, then assign an amount to each gift you plan to buy. Learn more about managing your spending.
- Look for opportunities to save – you should take advantage of every chance to save money without sacrificing your holiday spirit. For instance, try to only buy gifts that are on sale and search for economical options for holiday meals. Get creative and remember that some of the most cherished gifts are homemade rather than store-bought.
The Bottom Line When It Comes to Holiday Savings, Planning, and Budgeting
With careful planning, you can relieve financial stress around the holidays and find peace and happiness in the magic of the season.
Enjoy the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales! But, make sure to keep yourself on the right track, create an appropriate holiday budget, set realistic goals and keep careful records of every dollar that you spend. And if you’re the holiday host this year, check out these six tips for having a budget friendly gathering!
Use the methods outlined above to create a financial plan that will take you into 2022 and beyond!