Budget and Pay Cash
While ‘tis the season of giving, it’s also important to be financially responsible. Set a total budget for your gift-giving and work toward that goal with your savings. Once you’ve reached your desired funds, pull that money out in cash so that you can’t overspend past the budget you’d set.
Be Cautious with Credit
Sometimes you’re shopping online and can’t always pay with cash. In that case, divide your budgeted amount between in-person shopping cash and the balance that you’ll leave in your savings account to cover the purchases you had to put on your credit card. Make sure to not charge more on your card than what you currently have set aside in savings for online gift purchases. Once that credit card bill from holiday shopping comes due, move the money from your savings to checking and pay the bill on time so you don’t incur interest.
Starting early with a plan can ease some stress from holiday shopping. Make a list of all the people for whom you’re buying gifts. Set a budget for each person’s gift—and make sure the sum of everyone’s gifts is within the total budget you originally saved. Brainstorm gift ideas for each person within the budget. When you start looking for gifts early, you can shop around for those items to compare prices from different stores, and look out for sales, discounts, and coupons. Then once you find the best deal, you can buy with confidence that you saved some money with your planning, research, and patience.
Opt for Gifting Game
When you have a very large family or group of friends you celebrate with, gift shopping can be daunting. Offer the idea to organize a Secret Santa or White Elephant so each person will only have to buy one really thoughtful gift, not one for everyone. If your group does a White Elephant as a primary gifting option, discuss that everyone chooses gifts people will actually want (and might even make a swipe for), rather than the typical comedic gifts.
When shopping online, try to buy gifts for multiple people from one store because most have a minimum spend amount to get free shipping. That way you can cross a few people off your list, get free shipping, and hopefully some great deals. You can also plan to take advantage of national Free Shipping Day, which is usually around December 14 and is a “holiday” observed by a myriad of stores which then don’t require a minimum purchase amount.
Go for thoughtful gifts instead of expensive ones. Remember, there’s no minimum amount of money you need to spend on anyone’s gift. What counts most are the thoughts, intentions, and love behind gifting. There are plenty of websites and blogs that list easy, affordable homemade or do-it-yourself gift ideas (including supplies and tutorials) that rely more on the resources of your time and a little bit of craftiness. Some of those ideas include memory boards, personalized picture frames, hand-crafted ornaments, homemade treats, and more.
Here to Help
We understand the events of the last few years have created challenges for many of our Members. As always, your Credit Union is here to support you with products and services designed to fit your needs. To help with holiday shopping, consider applying for a low-rate credit card to get you through the season. We can also help you create a budget and a savings plan for future holiday purchases. Another option to get a head start for next year’s shopping is a short-term share certificate that creates your holiday gifts budget for you from the dividends you earn on savings you already have. Contact us for details by calling (888) 354-6228 or visiting a branch.