The holiday season is one of the most joyful times of the year – and the most expensive. Between parties, travel, and gift giving – November through January can be a big weight on your wallet. While you may want to spend hundreds on gifts to treat your loved ones, your budget could be heavily impacted by doing so. If you play your cards right, you can still get everything you need for the holiday season at a reasonable price. Here’s how.
Take care of your bills and consider loan options
Ahead of shopping, it’s crucial to take care of all your essential bills first – like rent, utilities, and groceries. This way you know what you have left to spend on gifts and can make a realistic budget that fits within your means. If you’re working with debt that needs to be paid off, we recommend considering a consolidation loan to help reduce your monthly expenses by centralizing your high-rate credit card payments and other loans into one simple payment. At First Financial, we also offer a holiday personal loan that’s available through mid-January, to make paying for all the gifts on your list easier than ever.*
Make a holiday shopping list – and stick to it
One of the best ways to avoid overspending and impulse buying is to make a list of every single item you need to purchase. This includes who you’re shopping for, what the gift will be, about how much it will cost, which decorations you need for your home, food items you may need to buy for holiday baking, and more. Are you taking a trip to visit family or friends? You’ll also need to add travel expenses to your list and check it twice!
You don’t only need to shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
There’s so much pressure for consumers to go ham on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but those big deals can cause impulse buys and have you end up spending more than you intended. Retailers can be clever and create deals that make it seem like you’re saving, but really they could be encouraging you to purchase more at once.
Instead, you should be strategic about when you’re buying your gifts. Sales happen over the course of the year, so there’s never a shortage of opportunities to buy. Refer to your shopping list and search when those items typically tend to go on sale. Of course, this method isn’t the easiest if you’re shopping last minute. Experts recommend instead focusing on finding savings on your everyday purchases around the holidays so you have more room in your budget for gifts.
Get decorations and small gifts at discount stores
You don’t need brand name items for your holiday decorations. You can find lights, garland, ornaments, cards, and gift wrap all at your local discount store for the best prices. Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Christmas Tree Shops, Big Lots, and outlet stores all have the tchotchkes and decor you’ll need to get in the holiday spirit without spending a small fortune.
Consider DIY gifts
Do you need to get gifts for your colleagues, extended family, teachers, or neighbors and are you cutting it close to your budget limit? Make something thoughtful or delicious instead. Bake cookies, make festive jams, create an ornament, paint a special wine glass, make homemade soaps or candles, put together a framed photo album or collage, thread up a scarf, or whip up your own bath bombs – the options are endless and thoughtful.
No matter how you’re celebrating this year, we’re wishing you a wonderful and safe holiday season!
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*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. APR as low as 9.99%, terms up to 24 months, minimum loan amount is $500, and maximum loan amount is $2,500. Loan payment example: A $1,000 Personal Loan financed at 9.99% APR for 24 months, would have a monthly payment amount of $46.14. Actual rate will vary based on creditworthiness and loan term. Subject to credit approval. One holiday loan open per member. Refinance option for prior holiday loan is available, see credit union for details. Maximum dollar amount able to borrow is based on creditworthiness and loan term. A First Financial Federal Credit Union membership is required to obtain a loan, and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan.