6 Tips to Keep your Holiday and Bank Account Merry

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If you want to save money, this is the time to make your resolutions — not after the New Year.

It seems like the holidays are always “just around the corner.”  Stress that seemingly goes hand in hand with this time of year typically stems from financial worries and that desire to buy “just the right gift.”  

This year most are avoiding those crammed aisles and mile long lines and making almost 100% of their shopping online. 

To keep your cheer intact before and after the holidays, we’ve compiled a few tips that will help you be generous without inviting disaster.

  • Set a budget.  It would be nice to shower all our friends and family with unlimited gifts, but the majority of people have a limited amount of money.  Before you shop, make a gift list and budget yourself.  We want to avoid using credit cards and charging our way through the holidays.
  • Make a list and plan ahead.  An easy way to keep your spending on a budget is to reduce your gift exchange.  Have conversations and agree in advance to forgo a gift and enjoy an activity together instead.  Avoid the temptation of shopping on a whim or waiting for inspiration.  This will lead you to items you don’t really want or a higher price tag.  Remember, even Santa makes a list and is checking it twice!
  • Find alternatives to a purchased gift.  2020 has certainly brought out our creative side, so use that as inspiration this year.  Making your own gifts saves money and adds to the spirit of the season.  It doesn’t have to be over the top to be special.  Homemade treats, a babysitting coupon, family photo, stamped and pre-addressed envelopes for your older family members to keep in touch; it’s the thoughtfulness that means the most. 
  • Give back with your gift.  We all have that person who is hard to buy for and truly doesn’t even need anything.  Consider donating to a charity in their name instead.  Another great option over material goods is buying an experience.  A museum membership, a ticket to a special event or show or planning a weekend away together are all ways to show you care without buying a material item they have no use for.
  • Get money back as you spend.  Yes, that’s a thing!  Use price checker apps on your smartphone to scan barcodes and see if what you are about to buy is cheaper somewhere else.  You can also download browser extensions like Honey and RetailMeNot Genie prior to online shopping.  These somewhat new technologies automatically apply any applicable coupons at checkout and are or no cost  to you.  Saving you both time and money.
  • Avoid extra expenses.  Try avoiding credit cards at all cost unless you plan to pay the balance in full once the statement arrives.  An added 8% (or more) interest on your holiday purchases can really hurt.  The best way to avoid finance charges is using cash, check or debit card when possible.  If you find yourself needing to use your credit card in a pinch and can’t pay it off, pay as much of the bill as you can each month to keep those interest payments down.  

Above all else remember to enjoy the season with your loved ones near and far.  Time spent together, even if it has to be virtually, is more precious than any gift.  We hope these tips lead to a smarter shopping experience and a happier holiday experience!

Written By: Morgan Henry

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