The holiday season has a way of stretching any budget, making it difficult to pay for gifts, decorations, and groceries, as well as normal everyday expenses. It’s no wonder people get stressed! That’s why we’re offering these simple suggestions so you can plan and budget everything beforehand and alleviate money related stressors just in time for the holiday season.
- Check your FICO® Score. It’s important to check in on your financial health to know where you stand so you can budget and spend accordingly. You can get your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking and our mobile app.
- Communicate your financial concerns to your family or friends. Talking about your concerns can be a great way to reduce stress. Relieve some of these burdens by confiding in a friend or family member. If your concern is your budget, suggest a mutually agreed upon spending cap. You can also ask guests to bring an appetizer, side, or dessert to share at events.
- Cut extra expenses. Take some time to look at your spending habits and get an idea of where your money is going. You may find some extra expenses, such as: gym memberships, subscriptions, takeout that can be eliminated to give your budget some breathing room. Then, if you haven’t already, create your holiday shopping budget and add some of this extra money to categories where you think you’ll spend more.
- Stick to your budget. It’s good to have an idea of your total budget and it’s even better to break that number down by setting a dollar amount per-person you wish to shop for. Additionally, be sure to consider any holiday decorations and groceries you may need to buy. It helps to write a budget down on paper or use a shopping list app on your phone, so you’re less inclined to overspend. Pro tip! Use our free Money Management tool to break your budget down into specific amounts – groceries, gift list, big-ticket items – and stick to it with real-time alerts.
- Pick one weekend and have a list. When you are ready to shop, have a full plan in place. Try to get your shopping done in one weekend with a list of specific purchases in hand, otherwise everything in the store could end up in your cart.
- Find additional ways to make money. Consider taking a second job or a side gig to help make some extra cash. During the holiday season, many stores look to hire on extra part-time employees to help with the influx of shoppers. You can also go through gently used toys and clothes to sell at local consignment stores or even on e-commerce websites.
- Avoid impulse buying. Before purchasing an item that isn’t on your list, give yourself a day to think it over. Watch for sales and promotions by visiting the seller’s website and signing up for emails to compare prices with other retailers. In doing so, you’ll have time to think about whether it’s the right decision and be sure you’re getting the best deal.
- Consider a GECU credit card. Before you're tempted by discounts to open a store card with sky-high rates, consider one of our low-rate credit cards so you can earn rewards while shopping for others.
- Make it personal. Get creative with your gift-giving this year and spend a fraction of the cost. Handmade presents are extremely thoughtful, and it can be fun to make them, too. If crafts aren’t your thing, there are other creative gifts you can give such as baking homemade desserts, babysitting for young parents, or shoveling a snowy driveway. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.
- Plan for next year. It’s never too early to plan for next year! Use this opportunity to open a certificate or savings account for holiday spending. And, as the season winds down and your budget allows, stock up on clearance items, such as wrapping paper and decorations, while they’re heavily discounted.
There are other ways to complete your holiday to-do list without taking on debt or clearing out your savings. The key to a stress-free holiday season is through a well-thought out plan and a little creativity. Plus, with successful planning and budgeting, you’ll feel great going into the new year!