The holiday season is here. While you may be thinking, “I want to celebrate with family and friends but don’t want to overspend,” there are ways to have fun and still maintain your budget. Here are five tips to help you make the most of the season – without breaking your budget.
- Traveling? Plan Ahead
Traveling during the holidays can be expensive. To find the best deals, start looking as soon as your plans are set. Include all costs in your travel budget, such as airline tickets, car rental, gas, lodging, food and other items you may need to buy.
- Buying Gifts? Make a List
First, list every person you intend to give a gift – friends, extended family, co-workers, holiday party hosts, neighbors, teachers and anyone else.
Next, write down how much you want to spend on each person. Then, start looking for online and in-store sales. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are particularly good days to shop for bargains. Do you need to bring a food dish or a gift to a holiday event? Think of anything that might cost you money and list it next to the events you’re planning to attend.
- Attending Holiday Events? One outfit will do
Holiday parties and other events are great times to catch up with friends and family. Plan to wear holiday-themed clothing you already have or add a scarf or another accessory to a standard outfit to make it more festive.
4.Too much to buy?
Set a budget
Take a look at the lists you’ve made and develop a master holiday budget. Add up costs for events, gifts, travel and all other expenses, then compare the total to your budgeted amount. If expenses are higher than what you’d planned to spend, revisit the categories to see where you can make adjustments.
5.Over budget? Track your spending
Keep track of your holiday spending using a personal spending app. Compare how much you’ve spent to how much you’ve budgeted. If you go over budget, make up the savings somewhere else or find a less expensive alternative.
To help with budgeting for next year, start saving right after the holidays. Saving $25 every other week in a holiday fund starting in January can really add up – you’ll have more than $500 for next year’s holiday season!
Michigan State University Federal Credit Union offers many savings options, including holiday accounts. To help you stay on track, these accounts are limited to two withdrawals per year: One can be made at any time and one occurs in November with an automatic transfer to an MSUFCU savings or checking account, or is mailed out as a check. Visit msufcu.org to learn more.