December 3, 2015
7 Ways to Spend Less, Stress Less and Celebrate More this Holiday Season
It’s the holiday season! That means it’s time to get together and celebrate with family and friends. It also means it’s time to spend money – on food, presents, travel, decorations and more. Holiday spending can be incredibly stressful, but you don’t have to let holiday expenses add up and drag you down. Avoid financial strain this holiday season by following these helpful tips.
- Plan Ahead
Most people don’t have a plan for holiday spending – but planning ahead can help you save money and time. Create your own installment plan by saving a set amount from each paycheck so you can gradually save for holiday purchases. Start saving at the beginning of each year by depositing money into a monthly “holiday account” that you can dip into guilt free for your holiday purchases. Also, cut back on other costs to make more room for holiday spending. Cooking at home instead of ordering in, exercising outdoors instead of at the gym and watching films on TV instead of at the movie theater can help you save money for holiday purchases.
- Stay on Budget
Many people find their holiday spending spinning out of control, but you shouldn’t use your emergency savings to pay for holiday expenses. According to Hersh Shefrin, a professor and behavioral economist at Santa Clara University, the typical American household spends around one percent of pretax income on holiday shopping. Stick to this guideline to prevent excessive spending. You can also ask family and friends to set a spending limit on gifts or ask them to go in on gifts to keep costs down. Make sure you budget for holiday meals, party favors, holiday cards and decorations on top of gifts. It takes discipline to stay on budget, but it’s worth the extra effort.
- Shop the Sales
Another way to save money is to purchase gifts throughout the year during sales events. You’ll need to decide what to give well in advance, but you can do that by asking friends and family or searching online wish lists. Take advantage of sale items at different times of the year – bedding and bath essentials in January, computers and winter sporting goods in March, dishes and flatware in June and home décor in July. October is the one month when sales won’t be plentiful, but with Black Friday and Cyber Monday right around the corner, it may be wise to wait. If you’re a last minute shopper, lots of items go on sale in December, like toys.
- Time Equals Money
As Benjamin Franklin once said, time is money. Don’t waste your holiday, family or vacation time on multiple trips to the store to buy gifts. Plan ahead to avoid taking extra trips. You’ll save time, gas money or mass transit fare – and reduce the risk of impulse buying.
- Save on Holiday Travel
Whether you’re going home for the holidays or jetting to an exotic location, make sure to book far in advance. Search early booking discounts and set up price alerts to notify you when the price of a vacation package or flight drops. Book out-of-season to get the best rates. If you’re flying, make sure to pack light so you don’t get charged for overweight luggage. Avoid starting your trip on a weekend, as this can have a huge impact on the price of flights. Although this may mean taking more days off work or school, you could save 50 percent or more on the cost of the flight. If you’re booking shortly before you’re traveling, you can save as much as 50 percent on last minute hotel and flight deals as providers drop prices to fill openings. Also, remember to download the latest travel apps to give you real-time updates on flight delays, traffic and the cheapest gas station on the road.
- Get Creative and Have Fun
Homemade gifts are a fun way to share the holiday spirit – and save money. Consider DIY (do it yourself) baked goods, knit scarves or sweaters, bird feeders or even holiday decorations like wreaths. You can even gift “experiences” like babysitting for your niece, walking a friend’s dog or watering your neighbor’s plants. Take the stress out of shopping and get as much enjoyment out of making the gift as the recipient will receiving it.
- Leave Your Credit Card at Home (Or in Your Wallet)
Credit cards offer certain advantages – being able to buy something before you have the money for it, tracked spending, and the ability to make online purchases. However, it’s best to use credit sparingly – especially for last minute holiday buying – to avoid impulse purchases. If you do pay with credit, use your rewards card or the card that offers the lowest interest rate – and always pay your credit card balance on time and in full each month to avoid interest charges or late fees.
Planning ahead and sticking to a budget are the best methods for avoiding financial stress during the holidays. To find out how Revere Bank can help you manage your finances this holiday season – and throughout the year – contact a Revere Bank relationship manager by phone at 866-950-5784 or by email.
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