‘Tis the Season…Not to Go Broke!

The season of giving is upon us! But, before you head out the door to join the hustle and bustle at your local mall or begin filling your shopping cart at your favorite online shopping sites, here are a few tips to keep you from overspending and going into debt this holiday season.

Develop a holiday shopping budget…and stick to it!

The first and most important thing you need to do is to develop a realistic and reasonable holiday budget.  This will save you from impulse buying and overspending.

If you haven’t saved already, look at your current household budget and determine how much money you can allocate each week (paycheck) to holiday spending. This includes gifts, food (items you only purchase during the holiday season), decorations and travel. There may be items on your current household budget you can eliminate until after the holidays (e.g. your daily latte) and/or you could pick up a part-time holiday job to save even more money.

Look for deals

Start browsing for people on your list, looking for the best deals.  Beware…the best prices are not necessarily found on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. These days typically offer good deals on items like electronics, apparel and beauty products. You will usually find better deals on toys and outerwear later in December.

Many stores will negotiate their prices to meet competitors so you will buy from them. Doing your homework, comparing prices, before you hit the big box stores will put you in a better negotiating position.

Use your credit cards wisely

Using your credit cards for your holiday purchases may save you money, especially if you utilize your card member perks/rewards, but only if you’re able to pay off the monthly balance. The interest you will have to pay if you don’t far outweighs the value of the card’s rewards.

Save money on purchases with discounted gift cards

Sites like GiftCardGranny or CardPool sell discounted gift cards. You can use them to make in-store purchases and save on whatever you buy. If you couple the discounted gift card with a coupon, you’ll really save money on your purchase.

Don’t go overboard buying holiday attire

You don’t need a new outfit for every holiday function. Make a few solid pieces unique by accessorizing. That same little black dress will have a whole new look with different jewelry and shoes or a colorful scarf or a dressy sweater or jacket. Be creative!

Hold off on self-purchases until after the holidays

Many people like to buy that special something for themselves during the holiday season. But, resisting this temptation will give you more wiggle room in your holiday budget. Wait until after the holidays to satisfy this urge by using gift cards you may have received. You will also reap the benefits of the post-holiday sales.

DIY

People love receiving homemade gifts. So, bring out your inner Martha Stewart and make your money go even further. Come up with more sentimental gifts that won’t break the bank.

When it’s all said and done, consider your long-term financial goals. Is it worth depleting your savings or racking up high-interest debt for one day? Think about the true meaning of the holiday season…the special time spent with friends and loved ones.

Have an open and honest conversation about your budget with your family prior to the holidays. Most likely, they have been stressing about overspending too.

From our Intracoastal Bank family to yours, have a safe and blessed holiday season!

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