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Spend Smarter (Not Harder) During the Holidays

As the days get shorter and cooler, we are reminded that the holiday season is almost here – and with it will likely come increased spending. For many consumers, there’s so much to do with so little time! Gift shopping, meal prep, decorating – these are just a few activities that take place during the holiday season that may open up your wallet a little more than you’re used to. So, how can you still accomplish your holiday goals while keeping your spending in check? Here are some tips for spending smarter – not harder – during the holidays.

Tip #1: Set a budget – and stick to it!
Many of us go into the holiday season with a budget in mind, but sometimes the extra gifts or that last minute impulse buy sets us over. That’s why it’s important to set yourself a spending limit – something that is reasonable based on your goals and what you know you can afford. Base your budget on a reasonable figure that doesn’t break the bank. When determining your spending limits, remember to consider even the small things like cards, wrapping paper, gift bags and bows, and postage stamps. 

Tip #2: Think outside the box with decorations.
Most of us know how easy it is to get carried away with holiday decorating! Be mindful of both indoor and outdoor decorations when planning your budget. Or better yet, be unique in your holiday displays to save money. Are you or a family member crafty? Try making your own ornaments instead of buying new ones. Create dinner table displays from pinecones and tree branches you can find in your yard or neighborhood. Take stock of decorations you use for other holidays – with a few adjustments and a little TLC you may be able to reuse them in new and refreshing ways. All of these ideas can help you save money in the long run.

Tip #3: Plan ahead for holiday meals.
When you break down your holiday meal necessities, you’ll probably notice there are many things you can buy in advance. Keep an eye on grocery store sale flyers in the weeks leading up to your meal – many of your non-perishable items will likely be on sale in the several weeks leading up to the holiday. If you wait until the week of your meal to do all your shopping you will no doubt pay top dollar for your items. Also, keep your menu simple and stick to what you are most comfortable cooking. Trying that new recipe you found online could lead to added expenses and an unknown result for your dinner table. 

Tip #4: Get creative with gift giving.
The best things don’t always come in the biggest packages. We all want to wow our friends and family with the best gift, but that could blow your budget out the window. Be practical with your gift giving options – set a budget for each person you intend to give a gift. Comparison shop to find the best deals, keeping your budget top of mind. Consider making gifts this year to save money, such as framing a special photo, baking cookies or pies, or putting together a personal coupon book of things you’ll do together in the new year. A sentimental gift can make a lasting impact.

Tip #5: Think about next year this year.
We know what you’re thinking – it might sound silly to be thinking about next year when this year isn’t even over yet. But, planning ahead can help you save money in the long run, and better prepare you for next year’s holiday season. Take advantage of deep discounts right after the holidays end – things like wrapping paper and decorations will be at their lowest cost. Get a head start on next year’s budget by opening a Dutch Point Credit Union Holiday Club account. This will allow you to fund your holiday spending over a number of months, rather than all at once right before the season begins. When planning your budget for next year, take what you spent this year and divide that number by 11 (representing 11 months, January through November). Make a savings commitment to yourself to put that much money away in your Holiday Club each month. This will set you up for financial success before next year’s holiday season begins!

We hope these tips help make your holiday season a little brighter. From all of us at Dutch Point Credit Union in CT, we wish you and your family peace, happiness and goodwill throughout the year and beyond. Happy holidays!

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