Unfortunately, beginning the holiday shopping season by blowing your budget can lead to debt that lingers well into the New Year. Community Financial wants to help you bring back the magic of the season by offering tips on how to budget and plan ahead for the holidays. To help keep your finances “in the black” this holiday season, consider the following tips:
Make an attainable budget for the season.
The National Retail Federation estimates the average American will spend $935 on gifts this year. Financial experts recommend putting no more than 1.5% of your annual income in your holiday budget. This should include gifts, food and hidden expenses like wrapping paper, cards and shipping costs. If holiday travel expenses are not in your annual budget, add them to your holiday budget to make sure they aren’t overlooked.
Complete a holiday shopping list.
Once you have your holiday budget established, create a list of everyone you’d like to buy a gift for. Be sure to include hostess gifts for parties, too. Refer to your list often to keep from forgetting a gift for an occasion. If you are a frequent party-goer during the holiday season, it might be a good idea to buy a few items that could easily be gifted at the last minute.
Shop around before buying.
The feeling you get after seeing an item you just paid full price for is now half off is the worst. Avoid it by doing your homework and shopping around early to scope out deals. If you’re a Black Friday shopper, develop a strategy for the day instead of just winging it. Shopping online can also help—you will save a lot of time and comparison shopping is a breeze.
Think outside the mall.
Use your time to decorate for the holidays or address holiday cards. Start the season off right by giving your time to the less fortunate. Consider serving meals to the homeless or paying a visit to a local nursing home, hospital or animal shelter. Don’t forget to make time for what might be some much-needed exercise.
Create a payoff plan.
Here’s where you can really take the stress out of the holidays. If you establish a plan on how to pay off all of your holiday expenses, you’ll enjoy the festivities much more. It’s important to set a payoff plan that you’re comfortable with and that fits within your current budget.
Let Community Financial help.
Just in time for the shopping season, our special holiday loans are back again. With rates as low as 4.24% APR*, a holiday loan will help you get the funds you need to make shopping easier.
Use these tips this upcoming gifting season for stress-free budgeting and purchasing! Community Financial wishes you and your loved ones a very merry holiday season.
*Actual rate may vary depending on individual credit history and other factors. Rate includes a .25% discount when payments are automatically deducted from Community Financial checking account. Not available for refinance of existing Community Financial loan, offer expires 12/31/16.