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6 Tips for Holiday Spenders

Jersey Shore State Bank

by Jersey Shore State Bank

Holiday Spending

‘Tis the season to spread cheer and good tidings, but that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank in the process. No matter what holiday you’re celebrating this December, this is the time of year that people often find themselves in a quandary of wanting to get that one “really fancy” gift for a loved one and having enough money in their accounts to cover bills for the month.  If you fall into that category, here are some helpful tips on how to make your dollars stretch this holiday season:

1.  Set A Total Spending Limit

As with anything that costs money in life, it’s so important to set a hard budget that you are not to exceed during the holiday season and STICK TO IT! The money you can budget for holiday spending is money that doesn’t go directly to bills each month. However, just because you’re using the money you don’t use on bills, doesn’t mean it has to be only what remains in your account at the end of the month. You can create money in your budget by taking it from other day-to-day expenses like, for example, your morning coffees. Instead of buying one every day, cut back to twice a week until the season has come and gone.

Remember to be realistic about sacrifices. You shouldn’t count on cutting down on your weekly grocery expenditures, but rather the smaller expenses that you can live without. As long as you are using money (not money from credit cards or as much as you can help it) without dipping into your rent or mortgage fund, you’re doing just fine.

2. Prioritize With “Naughty” And “Nice” Lists

So, this isn’t really a differentiation between who you think is “naughty” and who you think is “nice.” Think of these as more of a “gift-worthy versus treat-worthy” set of lists. If you have more than 5 people outside of your immediate family that made your “gift-worthy list," it’s time to cut back. Take people who are not absolutely crucial to shop for and put them on a “treat-worthy list.”

Instead of using your cash to buy gifts for these people, bake cookies and other cost-effective treats for them to indulge in this season. This will save you the financial headache of spreading your very limited budget to everyone you know, while also ensuring everyone receives a little holiday cheer!

3. Stay Within Your Means

So, your parents, your older brother, and even your younger sister are able to afford bigger, more elaborate gifts. This does not mean you need to apply “keeping up with the Jones’” techniques. Think about the circumstances: your parents might be financially stable and putting away tons of cash into their retirement and investment accounts; your brother has paid off all of his student loans and has a job in middle-to-upper management making a healthy salary with benefits; and your sister forewent college to open her own lucrative business in an up-and-coming industry. Naturally they have more money to play with because they might have less overhead in terms of bills.

Do not hold yourself to an unattainable standard. Instead of racking up debt and spending outside of your means, think about how you can get them more meaningful gifts that are on the less-expensive side of the spectrum. Maybe mom and dad have taken up gardening in their free-time as empty nesters – why not consider buying them an easy-to-coil garden hose? Your brother, while holding down an office job, still enjoys gaming on his free-time – get him a new game that falls into a genre he enjoys or a game that could pique his interest in a new genre. Your sister is a gym rat and spends all of her time playing sports or working out – maybe pick-up the cost of a gym membership for her for a month or two, or get her a new set of workout headphones?

4. Coupons, Coupons, Coupons!

Who doesn’t love discounts? Ask any shopper if they enjoy saving a few bucks on their purchases and the answer will universally be, “yes!” Extreme couponing is a trend that only the most dedicated of shoppers can master, but you don’t have to be a master to find benefits in coupons.

Check your local newspapers and other mailers you receive for coupons that might benefit you at stores you will end up shopping at for the people on your gift list. There are also services online like “Retail Me Not” that post the latest coupon codes for thousands of stores around the world.

5. Change Your Spending Habit

Relieve yourself of that “how-am-I-going-to-pay-off-my-credit-cards-next-month” feeling by developing a new spending habit. For instance, make a promise that for every dollar you spend on gifts, you’ll find a way to remove that dollar from your regular spending. As mentioned before, cut down on your daily coffee purchases; pack your lunches instead of buying it every day; spend a night in with friends watching a movie rather than going out on the town; and more.

On top of that, continue the trend even after the holiday season and keep those expenses out of your weekly routine. Instead, put that money into a savings account and look to the future to perhaps buy a home, a car, or simply invest the money.

6. Time Over Money

When the chips are down, remember that you can always give your time this holiday season. That idea spans across several different uses as you could volunteer to do all of the cooking and cleaning for holiday parties and get-togethers instead of allowing others to do the work. You could create vouchers on your personal computer that are good for hours of your time (a coupon for free labor from you, if you will) and redeemable anytime for any purpose. You could even propose that your loved ones join you in a volunteer effort at a non-profit, giving you quality time together as well as lasting memories.

Not all gifts are monetary – sometimes the care and attention from another person can mean everything in the world to somebody.

Disclaimer: You should not place undue reliance on any forward-looking statements.  These statements speak only as of the date of this blog article, even if subsequently made available by the Jersey Shore State Bank on its website or otherwise.  Jersey Shore State Bank undertakes no obligation to update or revise these statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this blog article.

Jersey Shore State Bank

Jersey Shore State Bank

Jersey Shore State Bank operates fifteen branch offices providing financial services in Lycoming, Clinton, Centre, Montour, and Union Counties. Since 1934, JSSB has been proud to service all of the banking needs of the communities within its serviceable region.