It is unfortunately all too easy to get caught up by the allure of holiday sales and special offers. Before you know it, the holidays will be over, and you will be left with a stack of bills to pay. Rather than start the new year out with holiday debt, follow these tips for staying within your shopping budget this holiday season:
- Make a budget. It seems elementary, but if you don’t make a budget in the first place, you won’t be able to stick to your budget. For more information about budgeting, see “Budgeting Basics: 4 Things Everyone Needs to Know” and “Budgeting in Your College Years“.
- Make lists ahead of time. If possible, try to identify what gifts or other items you are looking for before you go to the mall or browse online. When you don’t plan ahead this way, you may be waylaid by “sale” signs and end up buying something you didn’t intend on purchasing.
- Look for special offers. One big benefit of knowing what you want to buy ahead of time is that you can shop around to find the best price. If you are shopping in brick-and-mortar retail stores, review sales flyers (paper or online) ahead of time. When you are shopping online, search for the best deals. You can also often find coupon or discount codes to apply at checkout online for even more savings. Don’t forget to also take advantage of special savings offered on “Black Friday” (the day after Thanksgiving) and “Cyber Monday” (the Monday after Thanksgiving). Retailers often offer deeply discounted items to bring in extra shoppers on those days.
- Be creative. When money is tight, look for creative ways to celebrate without buying flashy gifts for family or friends. Some people plan a holiday potluck where everyone contributes a dish or appetizer to the meal, and the focus is on spending quality time together rather than on opening gifts. Another option is to be crafty and exchange homemade gifts instead of purchasing them (just remember the same rules apply when purchasing materials for your craft projects!)
- Be smart with credit. Don’t be tempted to sign up for store credit card offers when doing your holiday shopping; you will have to pay the bills later, and when the often hefty finance charges are added, you end up paying much more for those “sale” items than you thought.
- Plan for next holiday season. After you get through this holiday season, why not start saving right away for next year? If you wait until the end of the season, you can find great deals on Christmas decorations, wrapping paper and many other items to make next year’s holiday season less taxing on your budget. Putting away money a little bit at a time is also a great way to avoid a holiday budget crunch next year. Check out Mercer Savings Bank’s interest rates on CDs and other savings vehicles, then contact us to get started.
To learn more, and to explore the banking products and service that have made Mercer Savings Bank a trusted community resource for more than 25 years in Celina, Ft. Recovery and Greenville, contact us today!