As the holiday season approaches, it’s easy to get swept up in the festive spirit and the joy of giving. However, it’s also a time when our wallets can feel the strain of gift-giving, holiday feasts, and family getaways.
This year, your financial wellness doesn’t have to take a holiday break.
At Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union along with our friends at GreenPath, we understand the desire to make the season special for you and your loved ones, and we’re excited to share some practical tips that will help you navigate this wonderful time of year without breaking the bank.
Getting your money in holiday mode might increase the merriment.
About 40% of holiday shoppers said inflation is changing the way they shop, with most trying money-saving strategies, according to a recent Bankrate.com report.
It’s tempting to get wrapped up in the commercialism of the season, but overspending can place a financial strain on individuals and families well into the New Year, and beyond
To make your money go into holiday mode, consider rethinking your holiday plan, setting a budget and sticking with it.
Shared here are do-able ideas to avoid excess holiday debt and celebrate the season in a budget-conscious way:
Get a Handle on Existing Debt
Dealing with debt during the holiday season can be stressful. To manage it, write down how much you owe and limit credit card usage. Use our Card Manager tool to set spending limits and track your expenses. Our friends at GreenPath also suggest creating a debt management plan that helps you pay off unsecured debt in 3 to 5 years. GreenPath can work with your creditors to bring your accounts current, lower interest rates, and eliminate fees. More of your payment goes toward reducing your account balance and you save money on interest
Create a Holiday Spending Plan
Write down a holiday budget that includes all planned spending – food, décor, travel, gifts, etc. This can help you see how much income you’ll need, set spending limits, and relieve uncertainty and financial stress. Even the most basic holiday spending plan can help you limit impulse purchases. Check out this Holiday budgeting worksheet from GreenPath.
Ask For Help
The biggest stressor counselors hear from callers is fear of the unknown. They are concerned about uncertainty with expenses, keeping up with housing costs, and managing debt for example.
GreenPath’s counselors can help you understand financial options in clear terms. When it comes to housing, for instance, counselors can call the lender on a three-way call, ask the correct questions, and find out what options are available. Because the foreclosure process varies by state, and options exist that may allow clients to slow or suspend foreclosure activity, sharing a timeline with clients assists with their next action steps and path forward to relieve stress and get back on track.
Working with GreenPath counselors is simple and stress-free, which can help set you up for a merrier season.
Minimize Financial Stress
Is holiday shopping stressing you out? We get it. Let us help alleviate some of that stress with our Jolly Dollars Holiday Loan program. From now until December 24th, you can borrow between $500-$2,000 to spend on gifts or to have a little extra cash during the holidays. Want to sign up? Visit our loans page by clicking here.
Simplify the Season
This year, consider simplifying celebrations and find alternative ways to revel in the season. Resist the urge to splurge on decorating and large parties, and choose to gather with family and friends without breaking your budget. As gas and grocery prices are expected to increase, rethink the elaborate (and costly) holiday dinner and invite your loved ones to ‘meet in the middle’ for a more informal get-together. In lieu of hard-to-get items, gift an experience, a family portrait, or an online class. Open a savings account for the kids-it’s the gift that gives long term.
Volunteer in Someone’s Name
Celebrate those you love by giving back. Volunteer at a friend or loved one’s favorite charity or provide a contribution on their behalf. Gift some elbow grease at a local Meals-on-Wheels, community center, humane society, or nonprofit organization that could use your help.
Thanksgiving gatherings could be the time to communicate this year’s holiday plan. Such conversations can relieve stress for all involved and avoid undue disappointment. A recent survey shows that small children thrive in environments with fewer toys. Research shows that clutter can impact mental well-being in adults, particularly women, and possibly spark increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
There is time this season to monitor sales for the best deals. Should you use credit this holiday season, look for zero or low-interest payment options. If shopping online, in-store pickup may cut down on shipping costs. Look out for holiday shopping scams and leverage fraud protection via PayPal and credit cards. By “abandoning” your online shopping cart for 24-72 hours, the retailer may grant you a discount or perk through email or other online notifications.
In all, it is possible to get your money in holiday mode – even with inflation and rising interest rates.
It makes sense for households to be especially thoughtful about where each holiday dollar goes.
The national nonprofit GreenPath Financial Wellness offers trusted resources to help people get their money in holiday mode despite a challenging time. Take a look at the numerous financial health resources on GreenPath’s website or give them a call at 877-337-3399 to get you through the holidays.