Have a Holiday Savings Plan, So You Can Sit Back and Enjoy the Holidays

Seven in 10 people say they typically go over budget during the holidays. Expenses including entertaining, gift giving, decorations, travel, holiday cards, and charitable giving all add up. One reason holiday spending gets out of control is lack of planning. Oklahoma citizens are not exempt from this. An article from 2016 says the majority of Oklahomans don’t have any savings. Being deliberate about how much you spend and your holiday savings plan will allow you to make the most of your money.

Tips for a Holiday Savings Plan

A holiday savings plan will allow you to consider what you want to spend during the holiday season and how best to use those funds. It also will keep you from overspending.

1. Create a Budget

Experts expect overall holiday spending to be up in 2021. Experts expect consumers to spend about 9% more during the holidays than they did last year.

When you think about the holiday expenses, your mind likely focuses on gifts. But if you plan to host a gathering, visit family, or buy decorations, it can all add up. You need to consider those items too. Creating a budget can help you set and stay within realistic limits. 

Expenses to consider:

  • Gifts. List all the people you need to buy a gift for this holiday season. Making a list of people and what you want to give them will keep you from buying more than you need. Include family, friends, teachers, hairdressers, and coworkers. Put a dollar figure next to each name on your list. Setting price limits will help you keep your holiday budget on track.
  • Holiday Cards. If you send out holiday cards, photos, or letters, be sure to account for them in your budget. Include postage and cost of shipping gifts that have to reach recipients by mail.
  • Food. Are you hosting family or friends for the holidays? Dinners, cookie decorating parties, or drinks with friends can quickly add up.
  • Decorations. Add a line to your budget for holiday decorations. That includes a Christmas tree, outdoor and indoor lights, and Hanukkah or Kwanzaa candles. 
  • Travel Expenses. Experts anticipate increased holiday travel this year. Your budget should factor in airplane tickets, baggage fees, gas, parking, hotels, meals, and tolls.

2. Look for Ways to Spend Less

The idea of spending less always sounds easy, but you need to be proactive in cutting costs. Review your list to see if there are ways you can pare down your expenses.

Ideas for savings include:

  • Group Gift Exchange. Consider a gift exchange instead of individual presents for groups like coworkers. Instead of having to buy gifts for multiple people, you buy just one gift for one person. Friends and family will like the idea because it makes their gift-giving easier.
  • Make Gifts. Homemade presents are great ways to save cash. DIY gifts won’t work for everyone but are an excellent option for some people on your list.
  • Host a Potluck. If you’re hosting a dinner party or event, ask guests to bring something to share. You provide the main dish and let everyone else take care of sides and dessert. 
  • Compare Prices. Use your phone or computer to see if you can find a better price elsewhere or a promotional code. Also, look for stores that offer price matching if you find a better deal.
  • Avoid Self-Gifting. You buy two sweaters instead of one or add an extra item to your online shopping cart. We’ve all done it. When shopping, avoid adding extras just because they’re on sale. 
  • Start Early and Stop. A sound holiday savings plan involves starting early. And when you’ve gone through your list, stop. 

3. Track Your Spending

You have your plan and cut back where possible. Now it’s time to shop! 

Make separate lists for people and parties and keep track of all your purchases. You can do it the old-fashioned way by saving receipts and using a spreadsheet. Or tons of apps can help you automate the tracking of expenses and document your gift list, purchases, and even if you wrapped the gift. 

Keeping tabs on what you spend also will help you more accurately budget next year. 

4. Start Saving Early 

There are a variety of holiday savings plan options that can help you get ready for the season.

Saving options to consider include:

  • Try a Side Hustle. A seasonal job or side hustle can help you earn a little extra cash to cushion your spending. It can provide you an opportunity to try something new and designate the funds for the holidays.
  • Open a Savings Account. If you don’t already have one, opening a savings account provides a way to save money. Set up automatic deposits to ensure your paycheck goes to the account. 
  • Consider a Holiday Club Account. A club account is a type of savings account in which you make regular contributions intended for holiday expenses. Designating funds throughout the year makes it easier to budget. Plus, you’re not tempted to dip into the account throughout the year.
  • Designate a Saving Assist Program. Savings Assist is a simple way to save. Just add the round-up feature to your Focus Federal Credit Union debit card. Every time you use your Visa check card, it will round up depositing 25 cents to $2.00 more than your purchase. Funds transfer into your savings account daily.

How Focus Federal Credit Union Can Help

Interested in learning more about how Focus Federal Credit Union can help you start saving? Contact us today to open a savings account, club account, or savings assist and start your holiday savings plan today.