Tracking Holiday Spending Keeps Stress Down
The holidays will look different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why most people will try harder to make the season brighter. But, you don’t have to dip into the kids’ college savings to create a special time!
The most important thing to remember is plan ahead with a set spending amount for gifts, wrap, entertaining, donations and travel.
Make a list and check it twice
Once you have your gift-recipient list, figure out a realistic amount you are able to spend on each person. Then, jot down a couple of gift ideas in your price range for that person.
Try a budgeting app like Mint to keep your spending in check. You can use Mint for your regular monthly budgeting, but it also allows you to allocate more funds for holiday purchases. Using graphs and reports, it shows you how much you’ve spent and how it will affect your budget in the months ahead.
Due to the pandemic, holiday shopping is already in full swing. Most people want to avoid crowds, so they are already hitting malls. Retailers are well aware of this and are offering pre-Black Friday sales and discounts.
Some other money-saving tips:
- Spread out your holiday shopping over several weeks.
- Shop with a list.
- Shop the sales and find/use coupon codes for online purchases
- If you’re shopping online, avoid shipping delays and higher shipping costs by shopping at stores that offer “buy online, ship to store” service, which is free at most retailers.
- Get the best deals on cards, decorations and gift wrap during the days right before and after Christmas. Discounts of up to 75% off can shave a lot off your holiday budget for next year.
Still reeling from the pandemic, most folks will host smaller holiday gatherings this year, which will save tons on food, treats and adult beverages. Keep costs down by asking everyone to bring their favorite side or dessert and include festive recipe cards with the chef’s name.
Use DIY decor containing natural items, like holly and pine cones. Gather the kids and go on a hike to find outdoor holiday decorations.
Save more by partying without plastic. Disposable plates and dinnerware are not great for the environment and your budget.
If you must travel home for the holidays, don’t forget to figure in incidentals beyond basic travel costs.
If you’re traveling by car, gasoline prices have luckily seen a steady dip. Don’t forget to figure in tolls and any emergency costs that may come up.
If you’re flying, consider baggage fees, parking and shuttle costs and the expense of ground transportation once you arrive.
The holidays are a time for goodwill toward all, but if your budget cannot accommodate a monetary donation, volunteer your time.
Keep your holidays dollars in check, and you may have some holiday spirit left over even after the last elf is packed away and the January bills start rolling in.
We at USF Federal Credit Union wish you all a happy, healthy and stress-free holiday.
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