Whether your toes are in the sand, taking a dip in the backyard pool or enjoying gooey s’mores around the campfire…you’re probably not thinking about Christmas, right? It’s been on my mind as many stores and online retailers are offering “Christmas in July” sales and promotions. I certainly don’t want to rush the Summer season, but I do want to give you some important tips that can really keep you jolly and bright this holiday season and avoid hitting your budget with a lot of unnecessary debt and high-interest payments.
Recently, while meeting with our members who enlisted me to help them create effective household budgets, I noticed a lot of holiday debt on credit cards. The reality is that a lot of people find themselves paying for holiday debt all year, just to start the vicious cycle over again in November. You don’t have to live this way; that is why I’d like to discuss Christmas planning now! We have 5 months left before the holiday season begins and with a little planning and budgeting, you can kick back and really enjoy the fun and festivities without financial stress bringing you down. Here’s how:
Start Saving NOW – Begin by determining how much you will need to spend on gifts for family and friends. Setting a realistic amount per person is a helpful way to calculate what you’ll need. Divide that number by 5 and this is the amount you will need to save each month. Break the monthly goal down by the number of paychecks you receive and set-up an automatic transfer to a savings or club account each payday. This strategy helps you avoid charging presents on high-interest credit cards.
Take advantage of sales NOW – Clearance sales and end of season sales are a great time to buy gifts and save money! Clothing, sporting equipment, gardening supplies, décor and more are 60-75% off at this time of year. Many retailers and online retailers are offering “Christmas in July” sales and promotions; take advantage of the savings!
Save on travel NOW – Planning to visit family for the holidays? Watch for deals on airfare and train tickets now. Waiting until Fall/Winter can leave you paying much higher prices.
Do a DIY Holiday – I will admit that I am addicted to Pinterest! So many good ideas, so little time, right? Start looking now to find those perfect meaningful gifts you know your family and friends will love. There are plenty of easy DIY ideas that even a non-crafter like me can easily assemble. Giving a gift that has sentimental meaning is so much more appreciated than a last-minute item off the store shelf.
Get some help – Still not sure how to plan for the holidays while staying in line with your current budget? Let me help! New Dimensions Federal Credit Union provides FREE budgeting assistance for our members. I love helping members reach their financial goals! Simply call me at (207) 872-2771 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set-up a convenient appointment that works with your schedule.
Until next time…