The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration. But, too many of us find them to be a time of great financial stress too. How can you give gifts to so many loved ones while balancing the need to spend but not put yourself into a financial bind?
Make a Plan
Just because it’s the holidays, it doesn’t mean you need to spend on impulse. Start by writing out your gift list. Don’t worry about picking any of the gifts just yet. But, you can assign dollar amounts. Have a maximum amount you think you can afford, and dial that number back just a bit. Once you have your list and the number of dollars you’re planning to spend on each recipient, add it all up. If it’s too high, refine the dollar amounts on your list and recalculate. Repeat until you have landed in your spending comfort zone.
By starting early, you give yourself more options. You have more sales to choose from, and you have more time to shop. But, starting early gives you another valuable advantage as well: time.
Make Gifts by Hand
If you have more time than money this year, making handmade gifts is an ideal solution. Indeed, it’s more than ideal – a store-bought gift isn’t always appreciated for very long. A handmade gift is frequently kept and treasured for a lifetime.
Cards are cheaper than gifts. Cheaper still if you create them by hand. And cheaper still, if you give them in-person to people you see regularly than if you spend money on postage. Need to save even more on stamps? Scan and email your cards. But personalize each of them, so they don’t look like a mass mailing.
Join a Christmas Club
Back before nearly everyone had a credit card, people joined Christmas Clubs at credit unions. Their credit union would help them set aside money each month for 11 months. Then, at Christmas time, that money was available – with the interest earned – for holiday spending.
Never knew Christmas Club accounts existed? Start one for next year! You can open a Christmas Club with us for just $5. Be sure to make saving automatic by signing up for Auto Transfer every time you get paid. Next Christmas, you’ll have plenty to spend. Credit cards are great for emergencies – but who really wants to start the new year by paying off holiday debt?
Try Alcohol-Free Holidays
Alcohol adds quite a bit to holiday expenses between Christmas and New Year’s. Rolling back or eliminating alcohol can easily save $30 to $100 (or even more) for some families, between all the holiday expenditures. That’s enough to buy quite a few cards and stamps.
Keep it Simple
Remember – the first Christmas was quiet modest. They didn’t even pay for a room at the inn. There’s nothing wrong with a quiet Christmas at home with your family. Indeed, there’s a great deal about that idea that gets it exactly right.
How DuGood Can Help This Christmas
Did the Grinch steal your Christmas budget this year? Sometimes the holidays have a way of sneaking up on us! If you have a loan with us, be sure to apply for December Skip-A-Pay. And, moms and dads – don’t forget! We’re giving away several Toys R Us shopping sprees this year. Three lucky members will win $500, $300, and $200 gift cards. If you have a child that’s 12 or younger, stop by your local branch and enter to win today. The winners will be announced on December 22.
Blog contributed by CU Content