There’s no question that the holidays take a bite out of your budget. According to a 2016 Forbes report, last year holiday shopping cost parents around $1700, on average, while non-parents spent an average of $903. All of that spending has to come from somewhere. Unfortunately, too often shoppers let the season get the better of them, and they rack up credit card debt, take out high-interest payday loans, or dip into their emergency funds or retirement savings.
We understand that every parent wants to surprise and delight their children and create memorable moments during the holiday season, but doing so at the expense of your own future doesn’t make sense for you—or for your kids.
The best way to avoid falling into the Holiday spending trap is to plan for it. SC Telco’s Christmas Club Account, for example, allows members to transfer as little as $25 per paycheck into a separate account meant just for holiday spending. Our specialists are happy to sit down with you, help you come up with a holiday spending budget, and determine how much you need to save out of each paycheck to meet your goal by November.
If you haven’t been saving all year, don’t panic. We’re here to help with a few last-minute tips and tricks to help you save up and stretch your holiday budget:
Last Minute Holiday Savings Tips
Move the Holiday.
This may sound unconventional, but it could save you a bundle. Nothing says you have to celebrate on the designated day. Think about it. Are your kids young? Do they know when the holiday is supposed to take place? If not, consider moving the day you celebrate closer to January 1. Shopping for Christmas gifts (as well as wrapping paper and other supplies) after December 25th is one of the best ways to take advantage of all the post-Christmas sales. As a bonus: If you work in a needed service profession, such as nursing, retail, or restaurant management, you can typically make at least time-and-a-half by volunteering to work the holidays.
Go on a Money Diet.
It’s never too late to trim spending in order to boost your holiday savings account. Choose a month in the fall and commit to zero extras. No eating out or entertainment budget, no toys or gadgets, no late-night online shopping. Just pay your household bills and buy groceries and see how quickly the savings pile up. Many households can easily add $300-$500 to their holiday budget by doing a money detox for one month.
Make a Little More.
Saving for the holidays isn’t only about trimming your spending. You can also save more by making a little more. Maybe it’s the brisk, cooler weather or the desire to recover from a long, lazy summer—but people tend to do more home renovation projects or deep cleanings during this season. Many businesses tend to get busier, too. The fall is a fantastic time to offer your skills for hire, find a side-hustle, or pick up extra hours at work. It’s also the perfect time to clean out your garage, attic, closets, or basement and hold a yard sale or put larger items on an online sales platform. Finally, many retailers hire seasonal employees in the fall to handle increased store traffic and restocking. If you want a bit of steady, extra income for the holidays but don’t want a second job year-round, this might be the right option for you.
Give Identical Gifts.
Take a page from the playbook of top CEO’s and entrepreneurs and simplify, simplify, simplify. A lot of people overspend during the holidays because they try too hard to make each present unique, costing them not only the price of the gift but also the extra time and gas money they spend searching for the perfect item. Instead, for those on your list who aren’t immediate family, consider choosing a standard, useful gift and personalizing with a note, with a monogram, or by choosing individual colors or patterns.
Shop Cyber Monday.
Shoppers can find good deals on Black Friday,if they’re willing to cut family time short the day after Thanksgiving and brave the crowds. Cyber Monday, Black Friday’s online counterpart, is much more convenient and less stressful. Find amazing deals on all kinds of electronics, tools, household goods, clothing, and more. Right from the comfort of your own living room.
Take Out a Small Holiday Loan
Perhaps the holidays are upon you and you haven’t been able to save or you feel the need to expand your budget. If so, we recommend our Holiday Loan. We lend members up to $1200 for 12 months at just 12% APR*, so you can pay back your loan at a low rate on a set monthly schedule..
Make a Budget—and Stick To It.
The absolute best thing you can do to minimize your holiday spending is make a budget and follow it. Too many people start by making a list of everyone they want to buy for and present ideas. Instead, start with how much you are willing to spend on the holidays this year, and then figure out what you are able to do. Not everyone will make the list, and that’s OK. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. It could be that your Great Aunt Ruth would be happier with a phone call or a video message than another trinket, or that your parents would prefer a nice dinner out with you rather than something to unwrap. Once you have your overall holiday budget, break it into categories, such as entertainment, travel, dining out, wrapping supplies, and gifts. If necessary, take out cash and leave everything else behind when you shop.
Once you’ve made it through this year, there’s no time like January to begin thinking ahead for next season. The first month of the year is the perfect time to open a Christmas Club Account or go on a money diet to start your year off on the right foot. Many shoppers also like to use January to stock up on discounted wrapping supplies and stocking stuffers, return unwanted presents for cash, and trade or sell unneeded gift cards using one of the many available card swapping apps.
Whatever you do to make this holiday season the biggest and brightest yet, we encourage you to keep your future in mind and remember what the holidays are really about.
*Annual Percentage Rate