The holiday season is right around the corner and I thought this would be a good time to offer an important piece of advice: create a budget. No, I’m not Scrooge or the Grinch. I want everyone to enjoy the holidays. What I don’t want is for anyone to suffer post-holiday blues about their spending.
Collectively, Americans will spend more than a trillion dollars during the holidays. Individually, the majority of us will spend $1,000 to $5,000. Nearly 60% of us won’t make or stick to a budget, two thirds of us will underestimate what we will spend, and more than half of us will go further into debt. It’s estimated it will take from six months to six years to pay off holiday spending. So, that thousand dollars spent could cost considerably more to pay back.
To avoid a post-holiday financial hangover, let’s start with, you guessed it, a budget. Make a list and check it twice. Write down the family and friends you want to buy a gift for and set a dollar limit for each person. Factor in extra expenses like the additional money you’ll need for food, wrapping paper, bows, cards, a tree, lights, ornaments, and so on. If you’re traveling, take those additional costs into account. That should give you a rough idea of what you can expect to spend.
Here are some ways we can help. In the short term, you can transfer balances from higher interest credit cards to a lower interest option like an SCE Credit Union Visa. That can save you money each month, giving you some added flexibility. The more long-term solution is aimed at next year’s holidays. Open a Holiday Club Account. The automatic deposits you’ll set up will make saving a lot easier. You’ll also earn dividends. Start now and that money becomes available November 1, 2019. Perfect timing.
It’s good to shop early, before Thanksgiving. Prices are often less, although there can be some remarkable sales during Thanksgiving weekend and the following Monday, also known as Cyber Monday. If you see something you want to buy, check to see if you can score a discounted gift card; Raise.com and Costco are good places to look. Many experts recommend taking cash with you and when that runs out, you’re done. Regardless of what approach you decide on, be sure to avoid dipping into emergency or retirement savings.
I hope all of our members enjoy these last few months of the year and have a beautiful holiday season.