(To Take Control of Your Holiday Spending)

Every year, the Holidays come around, and the general public will often feel the financial pinch during and after the Holiday season. Between gifts for all your friends and family, holidays dinners, holiday events, and holiday decorating; it becomes easy to overspend and wind up in debt from the holidays (or even be short on paying your monthly bills). Take control of your holiday spending this season with these easy financial tips.

  • Make a shopping list for your friends and family; and be intentional about who you’re shopping for. While we want to be inclusive of everyone and make sure no one feels left out, we need to look at the big picture sometimes. Your third cousin (twice removed) that you say two sentences to at the annual family reunion, may not need to be put on your shopping list. Start with immediate family and close friends and build your list out from there if necessary.
  • Shop the sales but pay close attention to the product being purchased. Many retailers advertise amazing doorbusters and sales around the holidays. Do your research for bigger ticket items, because the sale item may not always be what it’s cracked up to be. Visit the discount stores in your area and see what you can find. Sometimes you’ll end up with a better-quality item for a less expensive price.
  • Set a budget and spending limit for the gifts being purchase. It’s often a good idea to break down a spending limit per individual as well. You’ll likely want to spend more money on your spouse than you will your friend. The key here is to be intentional about your spending. And if you happen to set a budget of $100 for someone and only spend $80, you don’t need to go find another item for $20 to meet your budget cap. It’s a cap, not a goal.
  • Kids are the easiest to end up overspending on. Pay close attention the next time your kid is opening gifts though. After a few gifts in, they usually end up with a glazed look on their face and are just going thru the motions of opening gifts. The pure joy of opening the gifts is gone. So sometimes, less is more. Think about gifting things that work as a family (experiences, trips, shows, etc). Another popular trend that social media has been advertising is the rule of four for kids’ gifts: Give them something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. It sets a limit and doesn’t overwhelm them with a mountain of gifts that they will outgrow quickly.

The last piece of advice is to check in with your local credit union to plan for next year. Many offer specialty accounts that can be utilized to save up for the holiday season, and so working with your financial institution to plan ahead is often the best remedy when used in conjunction with the above tips.