From our friends at GreenPath.
The holidays are officially here! And it won’t be long before families are exchanging presents. Holidays and gifts can take a big bite out of your budget so a little planning can help keep everything under control.
It is important not to get caught up in the last-minute emotion of the season and spend more than you planned. Holiday overspending ruins many festive occasions and can result in long repayment schedules.
The following are suggestions to help relieve holiday budget stress:
- Shop early for gifts. This allows you to take advantage of sales, specials and bargains. Don’t over buy or forget you have already shopped for someone.
- Make your own gifts. Use skills you have to sew, bake, paint or make crafts.
- Don’t be a “One gift for you…one gift for me” shopper! And don’t be tempted to give your gifts early lest you buy more!
- Use layaway plans if possible. Most allow you to pay at a rate you can afford either weekly or monthly.
- If you have a large family, consider drawing names to exchange gifts.
- Shop your local craft fairs and shows for specialty items – you’ll find some great ideas. Sometimes you can bargain with the vendor.
- Family members would appreciate an IOU to mow the loan or wash the car in the spring.
- If you plan to fill stockings or bags for the children, try putting a few pieces of fruit (apples & oranges) in the bottom first. Also, coloring books and scratch pads make great inexpensive fillers.
- Know your merchants’ return policies before buying.
- Rack up Rewards points by purchasing all of your holiday gifts using your USAgencies’ Visa Platinum Rewards card. Earn 1 reward point for every $1 spent, plus, 5% of net income from the Visa Platinum is donated to local community giving initiatives! Points can be redeemed for merchandise, travel, and even a lower auto loan rate or higher CD rate. Talk about smart spending!
Don’t forget to plan ahead for expenses such as holiday decorations, baking supplies (especially if baking for gifts), increased utility bills, food and wrapping paper. These expenses are rarely considered and can really add up fast.
Need help staying on track with your holiday budget? As a member of USAgencies Credit Union, you can take advantage of GreenPath Financial Wellness, a free financial education and counseling program. GreenPath counselors are available Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (EST), Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. To use this new service, simply call 1-877-337-3399 or visit them on the web at greenpath.usacu.org.