Even though it seems like the kids just started back to school, the holidays are right around the corner. I, personally, love almost every single thing about the holiday season, from the cool, fall weather, to all the huge, delicious meals we get to have with our families! And, of course, I can’t forget to mention the presents. Honestly, I really love giving presents, especially when I find or make something very special, but I’m a big fan of receiving gifts, as well. Who isn’t?
However, there is one thing that I don’t love about the holidays: MONEY STRESS. I think we all have it at some point or another, but NWGACU is here to help! Read on for some helpful holiday saving ideas resulting in a wonderful, stress-free holiday season!
• Give yourself a set spending limit before making your list of people to buy for. Consider postage, gift wrap supplies, traveling expenses, etc.
• When you make your list, keep your budget in mind. Remember that it is the thought that counts, but, if the sweater is too expensive, buy that person something else. End of story.
• Try to just use cash for your holiday purchases—when the cash is gone, the shopping is done. Using credit cards usually makes you overspend, and you’ll be paying off those gifts long after you gave them.
• Clean your house before you go shopping—you might find hidden gift wrap, bows, or even some gifts you bought on clearance that you forgot about.
• While cleaning, make sure you clean out your car (don’t forget the trunk!) before any long holiday road trips. Every pound of extra weight decreases your gas mileage.
• If doing your holiday shopping online, consider buying gifts through websites like eBates.com, which sends you a check just for shopping through their site! If you can’t find what you’re looking for on a site like that, check out RetailMeNot.com or a similar site for coupons for virtually every store or restaurant.
• Shopping with a credit card? Try to find a credit card with a low interest rate and that gives you reward points for using it to buy groceries, gasoline, etc. If you shop smart and pay your balance off, you can use those reward points to get free gifts like gift cards for family and friends.
• Remember that Northwest Georgia Credit Union’s VISA credit card earns TRIPLE POINTS in November and December on all gift purchases at department stores, electronics stores, discount stores, etc. Also, every time you use your VISA credit card between November 1-December 31, you will be entered for a chance to win $5,000!
• Consider making gifts this year—use your secret crafty talents to make candles, scrapbooks, or something similar. No crafting ability? Bake some brownies or cookies to give away. Pinterest.com has millions of step-by-step ideas for cheap holiday crafting and baking projects.
• If you are crafty, use those skills not just for gifts but also for decorations. Make your own ornaments, and get the kids involved! After all, the holidays are supposed to be about spending time with your family, so everyone helping out is a great way to save money and create lasting memories. Need kid-friendly crafting ideas? Check out Spoonful.com.
• Use Northwest Georgia Credit Union’s Christmas Club to make sure you have some money saved for the busy season. The club begins on November 1 and runs through October 31 of the following year, though members may join the club at any point in the year. Other benefits include:
- Account balance automatically sent to members on maturity, either by check or deposit into a share account
- No minimum balance dividends paid quarterly (calculated on daily balance
- Account automatically reopens for the following year, for your convenience; Deposits can be made by mail, in person, or by payroll deduction.
• If you are having the big holiday dinner at your house, ask guests to bring a side dish so you aren’t responsible for everything. Also, when shopping, buy items from the top or bottom shelves—the most expensive items are always in the middle, at eye level.
• If you are brave, consider shopping the Black Friday sales. The crowds might be terrifying, but the deals are often worth the scare. If you just can’t handle it, wait a couple of days and shop the Cyber Monday sales, where you can find great deals online in the safety of your own home.
• If you have a huge family or large group of friends, suggest doing Secret Santa, using a ten or twenty dollar spending limit. This way, the gift exchange is fun as people find out who had them, but each person only has to buy for one friend or family member.