Tips for Holiday Savings

It’s the holiday season — how’s your budget holding up?
 
Between big family meals and long wish lists, it’s easy to see how money tends to fly out of your bank account faster than Santa moves from house to house. Then, on top of that, you might need to take time off from work, get your vehicle ready for a road trip, or buy a new winter wardrobe — and, this time of year, that light-up Christmas sweater you just have to have won’t come cheap.
 
If your stocking is feeling pretty empty after incurring all those holiday expenses, don’t worry — we’re here to bring you tidings of joy. In fact, with a little budgeting and an easy-to-follow plan that allows you to save, shop, and celebrate, you can turn your spending stress into holiday cheer for all to hear.
 

Build a budget.

When we’re talking about money, everything starts and finishes with budgeting. A budget is a way to balance income, expenses, and financial goals for a specific length of time. It also lets you be in control of how and where you spend your money each month. There are all different ways to budget, including the 50/30/20 budget, which suggests you spend about 50% of your monthly after-tax income on necessities, 30% on wants, and 20% on savings and paying off debt. Find the one that works for you and stick with it.
 
Once you’ve built a budget that covers all your expenses while allowing you to live comfortably, save, and pay off debt, create a seasonal budget that’s strictly focused on holiday spending.
 
  • Make sure you account for everyone you plan to buy for.
  • Assign each person (or gift) a dollar amount that’s a portion of your overall budget.
 

Set boundaries.

Families come in all sizes, and most have long-running traditions based on who buys gifts for whom. If your family’s former plans no longer fit your budget, say something. Our guess is you’re not the only one who would prefer to save a little cash especially if it means not having to  buy an individual gift for every second cousin on the family tree.
 
Here are a few ways you can save this holiday season:
  • Draw names: Put all your family members’ names into a Santa hat and draw them out one by one. This “Secret Santa”-style game allows you to avoid shopping for dozens of gifts and put your time and money toward choosing the perfect gift for one family member.
  • Limit costs: Almost all of us have attended some form of gift exchange where someone receives a gift that’s either much more costly (or cheaper) than the rest. To help meet your budget, think about capping the value of gifts at a certain amount, like $25.
  • Focus on the kids: If you have a large family, why not skip the adult gift exchange? After all, you’ve probably got most of the inexpensive items you need already. Instead, turn your attention to nieces, nephews, grandchildren, or younger cousins who will be thrilled by the extra attention.
  • Give to a good cause: No matter how you decide to set boundaries, there’s still the issue of coming up with the right gift for the right person. If you can’t think of anything, and find buying gift cards to be thoughtless, why not donate to charity in the recipient’s name? Whether you choose a cause that’s important to them or one that impacts the community at large, your time, money, and effort will be appreciated by more people than you can imagine.
 

Make your list, check it twice — and stick to it.

You’ve probably learned that it’s nearly impossible to shop for food when you’re hungry. Well, the same mindset applies to holiday shopping. See, if you’re just hitting the stores without a plan and a predetermined list of who you’re shopping for, you’re bound to be distracted by — and purchase — gifts you may not need to buy. (Trust us, we’ve been there, too.) When you’ve thought out who you’re shopping for and have a rough idea of what you will buy them, you could save a sleighful of money.

And if you do overspend for one gift? Simply decrease what you’re spending on others by the same amount. For example, if you exceed mom’s gift budget by $10, take $2 off five others to make up for it. That way, no one gets left out, and you don’t put yourself in a position where you need to make drastic budget cuts.
 

Stretch your savings.

If you only have a certain amount of money to spend, you’ll want to make it go as far as it can to help you achieve your gift-giving goals:
 
  • Watch for sales: We’re not just talking about Black Friday and Cyber Monday — retailers slash prices all year long, both in stores and online. This is especially true as it comes to big-ticket items, of which old models need to be moved quickly so new versions can take up space on shelves. Look for clearance, closeout, discontinued, and open-box deals to save the most money.
  • Find deals automatically: If you’re shopping online, there’s a growing number of websites, emails, and apps that can help you ensure you’re getting the best deal. Sites like Brad’s Deals send out free, daily emails that highlight big discounts and deal alerts from around the internet, while browser extensions like Honey, Ibotta, and Rakuten help you automatically apply money-saving coupon codes and get cash back on purchases.
 

Give something that means something.

One of the easiest ways to blow your Christmas budget is to simply buy presents for the sake of buying presents. After all, if you gift someone a present they don’t want or need, it will most likely sit in a drawer — unused — for the next year, get regifted, or get tossed away.
 
Before you start shopping, take a moment and put a little thought into the gifts you’re giving. Think about each person and what they like. Do they have a favorite snack? Make it for them! Like seasonal decor? Make them homemade decorations. You can even gather photos of the two of you together and make a themed photo book or album. The possibilities are endless — in fact, Living on the Cheap found a whopping 35 ways to save money and time during the holiday season.
 
 

Make a New Year’s resolution to save.

Did you know that there are special holiday savings club accounts designed to help you earn money and prepare for the season? At Jefferson Security Bank, our Christmas Club has been a longtime favorite — and everyone is welcome to join! All it takes is a single dollar to open, and with no monthly service charge, we think you’ll find the Christmas Club Savings account to be the perfect way to set aside money for the holidays and earn interest.
 
But saving and investing doesn’t have to revolve around your holiday plans — we offer a Simple Savings account that’s perfect for your everyday needs as well as a Money Market account that offers higher interest rates. We’ve even got a Youth Savings account that helps kids save for the future and earn interest without paying monthly services charges or transaction fees.
 

Start Saving

Ready to open your own Christmas Club Savings account? Give us a call at 304-876-9000, send us an email, or visit one of our locations in Shepherdstown, Martinsburg, Charles Town, Inwood, or Sharpsburg to get started.