By: Wesley Hurlock
The holiday season is my favorite time of year. I have always felt that it’s a time of happiness and thanks centered on giving to those you love and the less fortunate. But thanks to the commercialization of the holidays, they can also be stressful if you’re scrambling to keep up with the increased expenses of the season. Believe or not, every year I use this opportunity to look at my finances and see where the gaps are. You’re probably thinking, “You’re looking over your budget now?” Yes! Now is the perfect time to develop a holiday budget. Here are some tips that can help you save money and enjoy the festivities—while still crossing off the items on your family’s wish list!
Establishing a budget before hitting the stores—and sticking to it—can help you stay within your means when you shop. And doing it before the holiday rush starts gives you enough time to prepare before the expenses start piling up.
If possible, establish a savings account that is only used for your holiday expenses, or consider a loan that gives you a flat sum of money for you to use toward gifts. VyStar’s holiday loan may be a good option for you if you need financial assistance during this busy shopping season. For more information, please call us at (904) 777-6000 or 1 (800) 445-6289.
You’re not alone in this holiday budgeting adventure. Many people go through spending struggles this time of year, so don’t feel bad about communicating that you may not be able to spend as much money on gifts as you had hoped. This is great time to take control of your finances and set the expectation for yourself and for others. Perhaps even make it a challenge to find great gifts with a limit.
Make sure to scope out deals on items you want and compare them to what retailers are offering. Check out holiday ads (many are typically pre-released online) to see what will be on sale, when it will be on sale, and how you can get the item you want (e.g., in-store or online).
One of my favorite websites to check each year is TheBlackFriday.com, which releases the Black Friday ads for major retailers and that you would typically find in a newspaper or at the store. This is a great way to compare apples to apples when it comes to buying gifts for the whole family.
Not a fan of the hustle and bustle of shopping malls? Many sales offered online are as good as (if not better than) the ones offered in stores. A great way to stay jolly and get the best deals on the items you want is to shop from your computer or mobile device in the comfort of your own home. (Just remember to follow these tips to safely shop online.)
Getting your shopping done on Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving) is a great day to take advantage of slashed prices and avoid elbowing through the holiday crowds. Luckily, TheBlackFriday.com has a section for Cyber Monday deals too, so don’t forget to give them a look while browsing through Black Friday deals.
A credit card can be your best friend when it comes to convenience. But if you’re not careful about how much you’re using it during your shopping spree, you can quickly turn into the Grinch when you get your monthly statement.
Use your smart phone, laptop or desktop computer to keep track of your credit card use during the holidays so things don’t get carried away. Make sure you are aware of the interest rate of any credit card you apply for or use. Many department store credit cards have a 15 to 20% APR whenever you carry a balance. These interest charges can eat up the bulk of your monthly payment with only a small portion going toward the principal balance that you owe.
And remember: You can also take advantage of any credit card rewards you might have accumulated over the year or find other creative ways to earn extra cash during the holidays to help offset some of your spending.
The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. VyStar Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided.