Financial stress can take the joy out of the holiday season, but there are some small steps you can take to limit spending during this time of year.
- Budgeting: Budgeting is one of the simplest ways to save money. Allow yourself a certain amount to spend on various holiday needs and be diligent in staying within your boundaries. If you plan ahead, you can budget for the holidays all year long by setting up a holiday or special savings account. Knowing you have money set aside makes extra holiday expenses less stressful!
- Ban the Bills: Dollar bills, that is. Pick a certain dollar denomination – $1s, $5s, $10s or $20s – and every time you receive one back as change, stash it away for holiday expenses.
- Record what you bought: It’s easy to forget what you bought and accidentally buy duplicates especially if you find a deal early on in the season! Keep a record of the gifts you purchased, how much the gift cost, and for whom you purchased it. Keep that information with you during the holiday season so you can stay on track. It’s also wise to set a specific budget for each person, activity and holiday event on your list and stick with it.
- Points for Presents: Find a credit card that offers cash back rewards on purchases and earmark that money for your holiday shopping. DuTrac’s Mastercard Platinum has UChoose Rewards where you earn points every time you use your card – with some retailers you can earn additional points – and your points can be redeemed for cash or items of your personal choosing.
- DIY Gifts: The holidays are usually marked by spending time with loved ones and, in some cases, exchanging gifts. Rather than buying gifts, put on your craft-making hat and try DIY gifts instead. Mason jars with recipes are always a favorite. Maybe you have a garden – can some of the items or make pasta sauce or salsa and share with friends and family. A flower garden can provide someone with a bouquet all summer long (provide a coupon to redeem). Recycle a wood pallet by painting an emblem of their favorite team on it and they will be happy to display outside all year long. Give the gift of time by shoveling snow, offering babysitting services or yard work during the summer. The possibilities are endless and others will surely appreciate your talent and effort.
- Staycation: Many families travel during the holidays but staycations can be just as fun! Take advantage of the Midwestern snowfalls and have a family snowball fight. If you’re up for a challenge, building a snow castle or igloo can be lots of fun. Or design an animal sculpture and paint it so it stands out for others to see. Playing new board or card games can be fun and inexpensive as well. Staying at home will save on travel expenses while still creating memories for the whole family. There really is no place like home for the holidays.
These small adjustments will help keep your family, friends and finances happy during the most wonderful time of the year.
If you have further questions regarding any of DuTrac’s products and services, please contact a financial services consultant by email: members@DuTrac.org, by phone at (800) 475.1331 or stop into any of our office locations.