Nothing is more heartwarming than seeing your loved ones’ faces light up when they open that perfect gift. Eric’s new bike, Jacob’s new tablet, and that gift card to mom and dad’s favorite Italian restaurant all add up to wonderful holiday memories…until the credit card statements show up.
The holidays will look different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why most people will try even harder to make the season brighter for others but, you don’t have dip into your savings to create a special time for everyone. The most important thing to remember is to plan ahead by having a set spending amount for all your holiday needs including, the gifts, wrapping paper, entertainment, donations, and travel.
Make a list and check it twice. Many are struggling financially, so it will be no surprise to those outside your family if your gift recipient list is shorter this year. Once you trim your list, make a holiday treat or handmade token for those who got the cut. It really is the thought that counts. Once you have your list complete, figure out a realistic amount to spend on each person and write down a few gift ideas in your price range for that person.
Pro tip: Try a budgeting app like Mint to keep your spending in check. You can use Mint for regular monthly budgeting, but it also allows you to allocate more funds for holiday purchases. Online and mobile banking will also help you stay on track with your spending on the go.
Shop til you drop. Due to the pandemic, holiday shopping is already in full swing. Most people want to avoid crowds, so they are already hitting the outdoor outlet malls and online shopping. Spreading out your holiday shopping over several weeks also makes it easier on your budget. Make sure you are shopping the sales and collecting coupon codes for online purchases.
Pro tip: December is the best time to buy cars, appliances, winter clothing, and electronics. Also, you 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. Did you know credit union members get special perks as well? Check those out to see if you can save even more. And if you’re ready to purchase that new car, we’d love to help!
Entertaining. In light of thepandemic, many people are choosing to host smaller holiday gatherings this year. The upside is that it will save you tons on food, treats, and beverages. If you’re hosting guests, keep costs down by asking everyone to bring their favorite side or dessert and include festive recipe cards with the chef’s name on it.
Pro tip: Use DIY decor featuring natural items, like holly and pinecones. Gather the kids and go on a hike to find outdoor holiday decorations in nature. Not only will it save you money, but it will also give you some stress-free outdoor time with your family.
To travel or not to travel? If you must travel home for the holidays, don’t forget to figure in other incidental expenses beyond gasoline and the cost of a plane ticket. If you’re traveling by car, gas prices have luckily seen a steady dip, but 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.
Pro tip: Don’t forget Fluffy! You’ll need to pay someone to take care of your furry friends. Plan ahead to make arrangements for your fur babies. Ask a neighbor to take care of Fluffy. It’s a win-win because you’ll save some cash by not having to board your pet and your neighbor will get to make some extra money in the process.
Keep your holiday dollars in check, and you’ll surely have some holiday spirit left even after the last elf is packed away and the January bills start rolling in. We at Alltru Credit Union wish you all a happy, healthy, and stress-free holiday.