Don’t FALL Into Debt for the Holidays

Nikki WallerDirector of Financial & Relational Development

Have a Holiday Savings Plan That Starts NOW!

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful.  And since we’ve no place to go, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

For those who know me, it’s no secret. I LOVE the winter Holidays. I love buying gifts for people and I get very excited knowing that I’ve purchased the best gift under the tree. Even more than gifting, I get way too excited about holiday baking and crafting.  But DIY isn’t always budget friendly, and especially around the Holiday’s, it’s best to have a plan.

 I also, honestly, buy gifts for myself. The deals in November and December are too good to pass up. So, you know it’s coming. It’s easy to let life get out of hand during the holiday season. You know, put the bills off for the next check so you can go ahead and get gifts for the entire family and be finished with it.

Putting off your bills or putting gifts on a credit card aren’t the best decisions. Instead of letting the holidays stress you out, why not start preparing for them now?

Here are some tips to help you craft a Holiday savings plan that works!

  • Be HONEST about how much you’re going to spend. It’s easy to figure out this number by putting your list together now and also by thinking about how much you spent last year. The biggest problem with gift giving is deciding who you’re going to include on your list, and where you’re cutting the generosity off. Fortunately, that’s where the good ol’ Holiday baking comes in. I always throw together some tins of Holiday treats for all of my friends. It’s cheap, and they love it. Plus, edible gifts are literally the best. 
  • Start shopping now – really, have you SEEN the end of summer sales? Toys R Us just closed; my baby doll stockpile is through the roof. Well, it’s actually in the attic, but you get what I’m saying. Look for deals now, cut the coupons, get the deals when they’re super hot. 
  • Speaking of shopping now, Target, Dollar General, and Walmart (just to name a few) have coupons on their apps now. You can pick out what coupons you want to use for gifts and just put them on your account. You no longer need an accordion for all of them! *Dance*
  • Start saving money now! Really, you should’ve started saving last January. Saving money now will save you a lot of stress later. Open a separate bank account for your holiday savings. It will help you be more disciplined about it. Also, looking online for accounts with opening bonuses is a great way to boost your holiday savings. You can find a great list on Wallet Hacks that’s updated monthly here.
    • ProTip: If you’re lucky and already have a little stashed away in savings, use this money to boost your account to get you closer to the minimum balance for the sign on bonus! Also, if you have a spouse or a friend, open two accounts and challenge each other to see who can save the most.
  • Cut the “Fun Money” in the budget. Especially since school is back in session. Focus your energy on finding free activities for the weekends.
  • Plan your DIY projects sooner rather than later. I always catch myself doing a holiday DIY project at the last minute. Truthfully, there are a lot of bargains for holiday crafting now – and you should seize the moment. Plus, having a plan always saves money in the long run. 
  • Giving should be year-around, but it’s not always in the budget. Don’t forget to include Holiday donations as a part of your plan. Especially if you’re planning to “Adopt a Family”
  • For the record, the holidays are not all about giving the best gifts and breaking the bank. Always remember that. Try not to feel the pressure that the world of advertising and retailers wants you to feel. ENJOY the season! It’s about family. Having a plan for the most time-consuming part of the season will really go a long way in helping you cherish the moments and not have a holiday hangover lingering on your credit card for the next five years. 

Make a plan, stick to the plan, and keep the lights on!