Maximizing Your Budget for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

Personal Finance Education | 11.08.2023
The rapidly approaching holiday season can be a stressful time for many. Prepare for the season by understanding what to anticipate for holiday expenses, implementing strategies to handle holiday debt and credit card usage wisely, and adopting an effective spending plan to ensure a stress-free season.

Holiday Expenses to Include in Your Budget 
The holiday season often comes with a hefty price tag. With so many expenses to keep track of, starting a list makes a solid first step. Below are a few of the most common expenses that may fall in your holiday budget, and how to stay ahead of them.
  • Gifts – Plan out a list of the people to include for gifts and set a spending limit; remember to include the costs of wrapping paper, too! 
  • Decorations – If you plan to decorate your home, inside or outside, don’t forget to set aside a budget for this. 
  • Travel Expenses – Account for transportation and any needed housing accommodations.
  • Food and Drink – Plan your meals accordingly for gatherings with friends and family.
  • Charitable Giving – Many like to donate to charitable organizations during the holidays and we often receive requests from many worthwhile organizations. It’s a good idea to set parameters to help you decide which organizations you’ll support while staying within budget. You’ll also want to be aware of scammers and do your due diligence on organizations to ensure their legitimacy before contributing.
  • Holiday Cards – Adjust for the cost of printing cards and postage fees. 
  • Energy Costs – Your expected energy costs may increase from the usage of extra lights and decorations.
  • Post-Holiday Sales - If you’re looking forward to catching a post-holiday sale, allocate a small budget towards these extra purchases. 
  • Unexpected Expenses – Dedicate a small amount to the unexpected – such as additional hostess gifts for holiday parties, unplanned guests, winter-related emergencies, and more.
Having a budget that identifies expenses before the season begins may be a huge help for some to prepare and avoid overspending.

Strategies for Managing Holiday Debt and Credit Card Usage 
Many individuals struggle to avoid debt during the holiday season as they become overly dependent on credit cards. Fear not, there are strategies to help manage holiday debt and credit card usage. To start, set a budget, stick to it, and avoid impulse purchases. Take advantage of rewards programs that offer cash back, miles, or other incentives when you use your credit card during the holiday season. 

If you plan to pay for the holidays with a credit card, try to find a card with low interest rates. The higher the interest rate, the more you will have to pay back. Merchants Bank is pleased to offer credit cards that have low interest rates and even options with no annual fees. Our banking specialists are here, and happy to assist with any financial questions you may have. 

Creative Ways to Save Money During the Holidays 
Cash or credit, the holiday season doesn’t have to break the bank. Keep an eye out for sale events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday; many include deals and special holiday promotions. Expensive gifts aren’t the only way to spread cheer. Getting creative with homemade items could help stretch your budget where you need it most.

Another fun alternative could be to organize a gift exchange among your group, family or otherwise. Set a spending limit and have everyone draw names to ensure everyone receives a thoughtful, budget-friendly gift. Additionally, consider hosting a holiday potluck instead of catering a big meal, allowing everyone to contribute to the holiday gathering. For those looking to save money, thinking outside the box can still provide all the joys of a memorable holiday season.

Learn more about the Credit Card options available here, at Merchants Bank.

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