Whether you’ve had your decorations up for months or you won’t think about it until December, it doesn’t change the fact that the holidays are upon us. It’s a time for family, friends, and delicious food, but it’s also a time of extra expenses. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when our budget takes a big hit, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of planning, holiday shopping on a budget doesn’t have to be hard.
Police Federal Credit Union is happy to be your source for how to save money on Christmas gifts with some helpful tips.
Set a Holiday Budget
The first step to shopping on a budget is actually creating your budget. It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of giving and spending. However, when January rolls around, does that joy turn to regret? But with a budget in place and sticking to that budget, you can carry that joyous feeling well past the new year.
Now you need to really think about what your budget should include – gift giving, entertainment, possible vacations, charitable donations, and extra groceries. Now assign an ideal dollar amount to each category. Now take a closer look.
- Gift Giving – Consider how much you’re willing to spend on each individual. Remember the extra gifts that sometimes don’t get factored into the budget. For example, the white elephant gift for the office party or teacher’s gifts given right before winter break must be accounted for. Equally important is to keep track of what you’re actually spending.
- Travel – It doesn’t matter if you’re flying around the world or taking a road trip to visit family. Travel will add extra costs to your holiday budget. Make a list of what your trip will include, including flights, gas, hotels, and food, then come up with a rough estimate of what you will spend on each. When it comes time to book your travel, be sure to compare prices from different websites. Sometimes you can find ways to cut costs and save money on your holiday travel.
- Decorations – Pinterest is full of different ways to decorate for the holidays, but before spending money on decorations, take a good, hard look at what you already have. You might find that you don’t really need to buy new decor. If you have pieces you don’t like, try selling them online. Then you can put those funds towards new decorations leaving your budget untouched.
- Holiday Events – There are so many unique events throughout this time of year to enjoy – festive light displays, the Nutcracker Ballet, or possibly even a special Christmas concert. Determine which holiday extras you want to partake in and plan your budget accordingly.
- Food and Festivities – Holidays are a time for family and friends, and that usually includes some fantastic food. Plan out any holiday dinners or parties you’ll be hosting and determine what you’ll spend. This may sound like a small thing to plan for, but sometimes the small things added up can hurt your holiday budget.
- Giving Back – The holidays are a time for giving and also a time when many charities find themselves in extra need of help. Remember to include donations in your estimate of holiday spending, whether buying presents for a toy drive or giving money directly to a charity.
It may seem like a lot of work and planning, but it’s worth it when you can see the big picture of your spending this holiday season. Now the equally hard part is actually sticking to your budget. Keep track of what you’re spending and what category it belongs in. If you spend less on one category, then feel free to allocate it to another. There’s flexibility in budgeting as long as you aren’t overspending in all categories.
Shop Smart This Season
Now that your budget has been set, it’s time to stretch your money as far as possible. Seasonal sales, coupon codes, and daily deals are great ways to save, but only if you stay mindful of your spending.
Black Friday isn’t just the day after Thanksgiving anymore. In some cases, Black Friday deals have been going on since summer. Don’t be afraid to start your shopping now and compare stores. It truly pays to shop around, as many stores offer a price match guarantee because they want your business. Also, it’s worth comparing an item’s online price versus the in-store price, even if it’s for the same retailer, as they may be running different specials.
Dig for Deals
Beyond seasonal sales, many stores will offer additional deals that can save you money if you plan your shopping right:
- Search out stores that offer free shipping and, even better, free returns if an item doesn’t work out.
- Be on the lookout for gift cards with purchase deals, as you can reinvest the gift cards into more gifts.
- Take advantage of ‘store cash’ when you purchase a certain amount. Pay attention to the use-by dates, you don’t want to lose out on any earned store cash.
- Sign up for emails and mailers of stores you think you’ll be shopping at the most so you don’t miss out on holiday coupons. Also, be sure to search for any coupon codes before checking out. You may find one that applies to your cart.
All these types of incentives, especially when combined, can go a long way to stretch your budget.
Plan Way Ahead
It might sound crazy, but it’s really not too early to think about next Christmas. After Christmas sales are a great time to stock up on extra holiday items. For example, wrapping paper and supplies, quick gift ideas for next year, or even those holiday decorations you wanted, which are now heavily discounted. Thinking of those small things now will help you out big next holiday season.
Another way to really get ahead for next Christmas is to start saving as soon as this Christmas is over. Start setting aside money every month or every paycheck into a Police FCU Holiday Club Account. That way, you can be better prepared and more able to enjoy all that the season has to offer.
Everyone Needs a Little Help
If you’re still a little short on your holiday shopping list this year, Police FCU is here to help get you through the holidays and into the new year without extra stress.
Our Police FCU Visa Credit cards can help you out with some of the extras on your list while providing a premium low, non-variable rate in addition to:
- 25-day grace period on purchases
- No Annual Fee
- No Balance Transfer Fee
- No Cash Advance Fee
- No Over-limit Fee
- 24/7 Fraud Detection
Police FCU has the ideal credit card to fit your individual needs. The choice is yours. Apply today! Not a member of Police Federal Credit Union? Become one HERE!