It’s the most wonderful time of the year… to let your finances spiral out of control.
We recently received the letter below from a People’s Trust policyholder. She was hit with a financial crisis and thankfully we were able to help get her back on solid ground.
While this People’s Trust customer story ended in holiday cheer, the same cannot be said for all people around the holiday season. Between gifts, food, travel and decorating, holiday expenses can quickly add up.
To help you out, we’ve put together the following list of smart and savvy financial tips to help you stay on top of your budget and manage your money, now through the holiday festivities.
1. Lock in your holiday budget
It’s easy to procrastinate on figuring out your holiday budget, but before you know it, you’ll have relatives pushing you to make travel plans and little Timmy asking for that hot new toy. What can you realistically say “Yes” or “No” to?
Put together a comprehensive list of gifts and decorations you’ll be purchasing for the holiday season, along with events you plan to attend and how much it will cost to travel to each one (if away from home). Be prepared to cut some things from your list once you’ve weighed your plans versus your income.
2. Consider homemade gifts
If you can’t seem to cut names off your gift list, shift gears and get creative; not all gifts have to be store-bought. Check out Pinterest for countless DIY ideas that will make friends and family realize how much you care about them.
3. Inventory your holiday items
Take inventory of holiday items, such as wrapping paper, lights, decorations and anything else you may have laying around the house BEFORE going to the store. This will prevent you from making unnecessary holiday season impulse buys.
4. Watch for extra online costs
Online shopping is a great way to get the best deals on a lot of holiday items, but be sure to factor in the cost of shipping before completing your purchase. Also, some stores like Amazon now charge sales tax on purchases made in Florida. These pennies can quickly add up when purchasing dozens of gifts.
5. Add energy-efficiency to your home
Don’t forget to take a potential winter utility bill spike into account when making your holiday budget. This spike is typically caused by a combination of cold weather, lots of cooking, and kids hanging around on winter vacation.
Cap the potential impact of that winter utility spike by replacing standard bulbs with energy-efficient LED (light-emitting diode) lights. Also, check for leaks that could let precious hot air escape your home. To help you out, we recently compiled a list of likely leak spots.
6. Most importantly… $ave!
Holiday spending is a recurring expense. Establish a “holiday savings account” that you regularly contribute to throughout the year. Talk to your bank about setting up a savings account with automatic payment transfer processing.