The twinkling lights, delicious foods, and festive music are all signs the holiday season is upon us. Add in the precious moments with family and friends, and it’s a reminder of why it’s the merriest time of the year.
Whether it’s decorating, buying gifts, traveling, or entertaining guests, the holidays are also one of the most expensive times. But this year has people even more stressed as prices continue to soar.
Before you let today’s economic woes bah humbug your holiday spirit, review the following tips to help boost your spending power.
Create a Budget for the Holiday Season
Whether you currently follow a monthly budget or not, it’s always wise to make a special holiday budget. Start by determining how much you can afford to spend this season. It helps to break your funds up into categories, such as:
- Food & Entertainment
Since prices continue to climb, it’s smart to overestimate for each category – that way you have a little wiggle room as the shopping season progresses. Once you outline your spending, you can break your budget down further. For example, under “Gifts,” list each person you plan to buy for and set a spending limit.
Choose a Holiday Loan
Credit cards are the “go-to” payment option over the holidays. They’re convenient and accepted everywhere – both online and in-store. However, as the Federal Reserve continues to raise rates to offset inflation, credit card interest rates also rise. Meaning you’re spending even more every time you swipe your card.
Easier to Budget:
By borrowing a fixed dollar amount, it’s easier to stick to your holiday budget and prevent overspending.
Lower Interest Rates:
Most holiday and personal loans have lower interest rates than traditional credit cards – helping you save more of your hard-earned dollars.
With regular monthly payments, you’ll avoid long-term debt and reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay versus making minimum payments on a credit card.
Most personal loans have fixed interest rates – meaning the rate will remain the same for the life of your loan. Nearly all credit cards today have variable rates and will typically increase every time the Federal Reserve raises rates.
Redeem Credit Card & Loyalty Rewards
If you’ve been saving up your credit card or store loyalty reward points, now is an ideal time to use them. Most credit card rewards today can be redeemed for gift cards, which make for great gifts or can be used to buy presents for family and friends.
With supply chain issues continuing to plague many industries, it’s wise to begin your holiday shopping as soon as possible. Doing so will also help you spread out your expenses more so your monthly budget isn’t hit so hard in December.
Shop the Holiday Season Sales
Most businesses realize that money is tight this holiday season and are offering early sales and better discounts. Subscribing to promotional alerts from your favorite retailers is a great way to stay on top of price drops for items on your holiday lists.
Consider Gently Used Items
Extend your holiday budget by purchasing gently used items. Social media, such as Facebook groups, is great for finding deals within your community. You might also consider selling some of your own things you no longer use to earn some extra cash for the holidays.
Instead of buying gifts for all your family members or friends, consider drawing names and purchasing one gift instead. It’s important to remember that everyone’s financial situation is different. While you might be able to afford gifts for everyone, suggesting drawing names could help out others who have less to spend.
If you typically host parties or events over the holidays, you know how costly it can be. Instead, consider asking everyone to bring a dish or supplies. Most people are happy to pitch in, and your wallet will thank you.
Plan Holiday Season Travel Early
As fuel prices continue to fluctuate, making your holiday travel plans as early as possible is wise. Most travel websites allow you to set up alerts on flights so you can be the first to know when prices drop.
Flexible Travel Dates
If your holiday schedule is flexible, you’ll typically save more on flights and lodging by traveling right after major holidays. Spending the holiday season at home, then traveling right after, could be a great way to extend your holiday budget.
We’re Here to Help!
The holiday season is a time to enjoy family and friends and create wonderful memories. While the economy is a bit rocky, there are plenty of creative ways to keep your holiday spirit up.
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Each individual’s financial situation is unique. We encourage you to contact United Texas Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.