CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Nov. 28, 2018) — ‘Tis the season for holiday cheer and festivities, which means that it is also the season for holiday spending. The National Retail Federation’s Annual Holiday Survey reports that American consumers will spend more than $1,000 on holiday gifts and decorations. Regardless of your income level, spending aimlessly can wreak havoc on your finances and cause financial stress. Here are ten tips to help you manage your holiday finances.
Make a list
Just like Santa, make a list and check it twice. Create a list for all holiday gift-giving — big and small. It can be easy to overlook small thank-you gifts for teachers, babysitters, the mail carrier and such, so be sure to add them in as well. If you need to spend or make something for them, ensure it is on the list.
Set a budget
Create an overall holiday budget number that includes spending for gifts, décor, meals, clothing and experiences. Then create a more specific budget for each person and category. And don’t forget to create a category for holiday entertainment. Trips to the movies, ice skating rinks, light shows and other fun activities add up.
Look for deals
Use the internet to your advantage and research the best price on particular items. Also, evaluate if it is best to purchase it online, in-store or from a local shop owner. Download coupon apps for retailers to take advantage of coupons and look at apps like eBates to help when you are shopping online.
Sometimes the best gifts are those from the heart, so work hard to find the right heartfelt gift. Perhaps, it is a homemade gift or a special meal. Use your talents to show your love this holiday season. The recipient will undoubtedly appreciate your efforts.
Look for experiences
Instead of giving something that will lose its sizzle after a while, create lasting memories with the gift of an experience or an activity. Experiences rather than materialistic items are said to create more happiness. So, do a quick search of the internet for experience gifts. For children, look for memberships to the zoo, aquariums and museums. For adults, think about giving a gift certificate for an out-of-town attraction like Biltmore. Plus, one less thing in the house is always a good thing.
Know your limits
It is important to be truly honest with yourself about your financial and time limits. It is OK to say no. Manage your budget and your holiday schedule. Carve out time for what is valuable to you. Maybe you choose to attend the annual holiday performance, but skip a group shopping trip. Also, consider setting limits on the number of gifts you buy for your children and keep in mind the number of gifts they will receive from other friends and family members. In the end, don’t buy it if you can’t afford it.
Instead of each family member buying gifts for parents and grandparents, consider pooling resources with siblings to buy a bigger, more practical gift. These gifts can be appreciated throughout the year with their daily use. So, think if this loved one needs a new energy-efficient refrigerator or perhaps new gravel for the driveway. Or maybe pool your resources to give them a vacation.
Shop with debit card as a credit transaction
Keep your holiday spending in check by using your TVFCU debit card to track transactions. When possible, run your card as a credit transaction. This helps prevent your pin number from potentially being stolen.
Create gift-giving expectations among friends and family members. Encourage drawing names or having secret Santa gift exchanges, instead of having everyone purchase multiple gifts. Also, clearly define gift amounts. And don’t feel the need to purchase more if you scored a great deal on a gift. A penny saved is a penny earned!
Identify your values
In the end, make sure that your holiday spending and your personal values align. Splurge on things that are important to you and forgo the things that aren’t. Are you spending your hard-earned money on things that make you happy?
Here’s to shopping merrily and spending wisely! Happy Holidays from your friends at TVFCU!
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About Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union
Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union (TVFCU), a not-for-profit financial cooperative, was established in 1936 when 57 Chattanooga TVA employees pooled $500 to create the member-owned credit union. Today, TVFCU serves more than 140,600 members who live, work, worship, volunteer or attend school throughout the 13-county service community. With more than $1.4 billion in assets and 17 branches throughout the area, TVFCU is the largest credit union in the region. For more information about TVFCU, please visit tvfcu.com.