The holidays are an exciting time, but it’s important not to get too carried away. From presents to decorations and travel costs, you’ll be making a lot of purchases using your checking account or credit cards. In fact, it’s projected that Americans will spend $1.3 trillion this holiday season.1 Below are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind while holiday budgeting.
1. List out holiday expenses
First, write out the holidays you typically observe. From Halloween to Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, there are more than a handful of celebrations coming up. Write down expenses associated with each holiday. Does your child need a Halloween costume? Or, maybe you’re responsible for making the turkey on Thanksgiving. Whatever it is, it’s helpful to know what to expect so you can save accordingly.
2. Choose payment methods wisely
Have a plan in place for payment methods. Some credit cards help you earn a significant amount of points in certain categories. If you have one that lets you earn 3x the points at U.S. supermarkets, it makes sense to use it when buying ingredients to make holiday meals. With a budget, you’ll know what you need to buy and how you plan to do so.
3. Get the best price
Price shopping is crucial to save money during the holidays. Download the apps of your favorite retailers to find coupons and promotions on items you were going to buy anyway.
1. Get a store credit card
Store credit cards often boast a one-time discount at card opening or “exclusive savings.” Don’t let these short-term benefits lead your budget astray!
Interest rates on store credit cards are typically high; store sales, deals, and discounts may convince you to buy more than you need; and you may rack up interest payments if you don’t pay off the card on time.
- Tip: There are much more attractive credit cards available to holiday shoppers. GECU’s Gold card2 gives you unlimited cash back 365 days a year, no annual fee,3 and $100 cash back when you spend $1,000 in the first 90-days of account opening.4
2. Forgo a budget
It’s never wise to spend money without a plan. If you go into the holiday season without a budget, you’re more likely to overspend and take a hit in your checking account or on your credit cards. Having a plan in place will keep spending from snowballing. Instead, you’ll know exactly how much you have to spend, what you plan to spend, and how long you’ll have to pay off any credit card balances.
3. Make too many unneeded purchases
Do you really need that animatronic Frankenstein, or do you have existing decorations at home you can use? While it’s perfectly fine to spend your hard-earned money on something fun, you should make sure the purchase fits within your budget. Take stock of what you already have and what can be reused.
GECU has your back this holiday season. Use tools like Money Management for holiday budgeting; watch free, on-demand webinars to avoid holiday scams; and enjoy unlimited cash back with our Gold credit card. With a planning mindset, you can enjoy a holiday season that’s merry and bright!