How to Make the Most of Your Holiday Budget

The holidays can bring both happiness and stress, especially when there is so much to account for. However, with a little planning, you can have a great time without breaking your budget. Here are some useful tips from Workers Credit Union AVP and Lancaster Branch Lead, Donna McCullen, a mother of four daughters, grandmother of five, and seasoned holiday veteran.

  • Decide what is most important. Think about what your favorite holiday rituals are. Prioritize the parts that are crucial to your experience and spend accordingly. For some it’s hosting a holiday meal. For others it’s seeing loved ones unwrapping their gifts. Focus on the things that bring you and your loved ones the most joy. 
  • Understand your budget. The more you know about your cash flow, the better prepared you can be for holiday spending. And when creating your budget, be sure to factor in all of your holiday expenses, including food, travel, holiday cards, teachers’ gifts, and any charitable donations, so the costs won’t come as a surprise.
  • Avoid credit card debt. Credit cards are a slippery slope. The instant gratification of getting what you want could wind up being soured by the payments you could be making on those purchases for months to come. Also, being late on payments can negatively impact your credit score. If you can avoid debt, you’ll feel much better when January rolls around.
  • Compare prices. Where you buy your gifts can be just as important as what you get. Look for sales and comparison shop between stores to ensure you are getting the best price for the items on your list.
  • Gift experiences. Your time is a valuable gift to those who matter most. Consider giving an experience rather than a gift to some of the people on your list. It can be a cookie party or a trip to see a holiday light display. It can be the promise of free babysitting so that someone else can enjoy a night out. Experiences have the potential to create memories that last a lifetime.
  • Start earlier next year. It’s too late to do this now, but for next year think about starting your gift shopping super early. January can be the best time to save. Also, shopping in late August or September would give you the option of buying some items on layaway, which spreads out the payments. Just make sure you buy items that you are sure won’t need to be returned by the recipient.

The holidays are a time when you shouldn’t feel alone. If you are struggling to set a budget and understand your finances, consider working with a Workers Credit Union financial coach. They offer judgement free advice and can give you one of the best holiday gifts of all, a plan for a happier and more prosperous new year.


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