We are in the midst of the holiday season! That means purchasing gifts, decorations, food and beverages for parties and dinners and maybe some traveling. If you’re not careful, that holiday spending can really rack up. Here are 5 tips to help keep you in check:
1. Create a budget and stick to it.
Making a clear budget for the holidays can reduce or eliminate overspending. First, make a list of all the things you will be purchasing including gifts, food, beverages, decorations and other holiday expenses. Then break down how much you can spend for each item. Determine how much you want to spend per gift, for hosting an event or for any travel you might have to do this Christmas. Once you’ve made a budget - stick to it!
Need some help? ATB offers a great tool called TrackIt. It’s a free, online mobile money management tool integrated into your online banking that allows you to see your account and credit card balances to better track your spending. You can even label the things within your budget like food, gift giving and so on, so you know exactly where the money is being spent.
This can help you build a budget. You may also use this free budget worksheet, to give you a better understanding of what goes in and out of your bank account during the holidays and any time of year.
2. Save money for the holidays throughout the year.
If your holiday expenses are too much to handle in December, you can plan ahead by saving a little each month throughout the year. Then come December, you’ll have a nice sum of savings to use for the big holiday shopping trips, instead of dipping into funds you need for regular expenses. You can have an automatic transfer come out each month and put into your savings account so you won’t really miss it.
ATB Financial has an interest rate bonus on new deposits made on a Springboard Savings Account until April 30th, 2019. This is a great opportunity to boost your holiday savings for next year.
3. Talk to your family and friends about price limits and expectations.
Have a conversation with your family and friends about price limits on gifts and set clear expectations. Sometimes we feel like we must spend more, because others are giving more, but that can lead to dangerous overspending for everyone. Decide ahead of time the price limit for gifts exchanged with love ones. If you have a large family you can draw names out of a hat and purchase a more substantial gift for that person. If you decide to do that, make sure a price limit is set for that one larger gift too.
4. Share the responsibility of hosting.
When it comes to hosting holiday parties or Christmas family gatherings, it can become a lot of work and a big expense too. Instead of purchasing the entire holiday feast, complete with appetizers, desserts and beverages, ask family members if they can pitch in by assigning each person a dish or something to bring. Not only will it cut the cost, it will also cut the workload so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the company of loved ones.
5. Do not use credit!
Remember that the holiday season is short, and Christmas is just one day. You don’t want to be playing catch up all year after this short season is over. Avoid high interest consumer debt by only spending the money you have in your bank account. Try to not rack up your credit cards. Remember that Christmas is about being with those we care about, so make memories with your time and not with your wallet.
If you find yourself in debt and are struggling to get through the holidays, make an appointment with an ATB specialist near you. They can show your options and help you build a debt repayment plan that can lighten the load this holiday season.