Don’t Let the Holidays be a Financial Burden

Kristina Kraus
Greater Nevada Credit Union
Whether I am walking through a department store, going down a grocery aisle, or stopped at a street corner with signage, I get that inevitable reminder that the holidays are fast approaching. I don’t know about you, but these signs start to make me feel anxious when I remember how much I spent last year or that I only have so many more paychecks to get. But after I stop my momentary panic, I snap back into reality and remember that the holidays aren’t meant to be a financial burden. In fact, if we all calm down, and start planning now, we can manage the holidays and make them enjoyable. And by next year, I might even be so daring as to plan as early as January with a Christmas Club account! But, since I am no holiday expert yet, by simply following just one or all of these steps, I know I’ll be in for a much more relaxing holiday:

Review your funds.

Getting a bigger picture of your monthly spending habits is important. By finding patterns in your monthly spending, you can discover how to save and cut costs to build your holiday budget. Look at how many times you eat out a month — bringing your lunch to work can go a long way when you are trying to save. You could also be paying for several memberships like Netflix or Sirius Radio that you don’t really use and could consider cancelling or pausing for a short while. Whatever your spending patterns are, it is important that you review them on a regular basis.

Create a budget.

After finding areas where you can save, figure out how much you can afford to set aside each paycheck. Sum up what you have been able to cut to create your holiday budget. It is important to make your budget first then create your list of who you want to buy gifts for. The last thing you want to do is buy the new iPhone or PS4 because it was the number one thing someone in your family wanted then realize you don’t have enough left for other members.

Do your research.

Starting your holiday planning early means you can shop around for items you know you need to buy. Check out various stores for each item and pay attention to when they are having sales. It is also not always important to buy the name brand item. Read reviews on various generic brands that might be just as good and also cheaper!

Plan your travel early.

Talk to your family and friends about who will be hosting everyone this year. You will pay much higher fees if you wait to book your travel last minute then if you do ahead of time. The earlier the better for air travel so it’s best to plan now! The holidays are a time to celebrate so remember to simply breathe and start your planning early so they don’t become a financial burden. For more holiday saving ideas, check out our blog from last year!

10/17/2014