6 Ways To Keep Your Finances Intact This Holiday Season

Middle aged black woman holiday shops online from the comfort of her cozy living room‘Tis the season to shop until you drop-or until you go broke. But you don’t have to overspend. There’s no need to rack up a huge credit card bill or go into debt just to cover your holiday expenses. Enjoy a stress-free season by keeping your spending in check with these six tips:

  1. Create a detailed list of all your expenses
    Don’t leap into your holiday shopping armed with nothing but a credit card. Before you hit the mall or start browsing, sit down and draw up a complete list of every holiday expense you can anticipate. Include all gifts, holiday décor, travel expenses, charitable donations and food costs. Try to keep this list as trim as possible by cutting out any non-essentials and using stuff you may already have in storage from previous years. Bonus points for any homemade gifts!
  2. Determine how much money you can spend
    Once you have all of your expenses written out, work on finding a magic number that will cover everything on your list and that you can realistically afford. Ideally, this money should come from funds you’ve set aside just for this purpose.
  3. Divide and conquer
    Next, assign specific amounts of money in your budget for each expense category and for every person on your gift list. For example, you can decide to spend $300 on your preteen daughter’s gifts and to donate $100 to charity this season. Again, make sure your numbers will work from both a financial and practical perspective.
  4. Track as you shop
    You’re ready to hit the mall! As you shop, keep a careful account of exactly how much money you’ve spent for each person and in each expense category. It’s best to use cash or a debit card when shopping, and to review your budget often to make sure you’re staying on track. This way, you’ll know how much you’re spending and you won’t be hit by awful “Santa shock” come January when you need to pay those credit card bills.

    To make this job easier, use an app designed for this purpose. A common favorite is one called Santa’s Bag. The app allows you to set a budget for each person on your list and then makes tracking the amount you spend super simple. It will even warn you when you’re nearing your preset spending limit or when you’ve gone over budget.

  5. Shop smartly and spend less
    Keep your spending to a minimum by following these hacks:

    1. Use shopping apps
      Use the Coupons App and Shopular, to get your favorite retailers’ best deals and coupons delivered right to your phone.
    2. Follow the 24-hour rule
      Before purchasing anything on the expensive side, wait 24 hours. Sometimes, after sleeping on it, you’ll find that you don’t need to buy that pricey gift after all. Or, you might find the same item somewhere else at a lower price.
    3. Shop online on Tuesday morning
      Research shows this time of week is when you’ll find the hottest online deals.
      Shop with a friend. Take advantage of BOGO sales by splitting the cost of a single item with a friend and each of you taking one item home.
      Shop late. Everyone likes to get an early start on holiday shopping, but prices actually drop in the weeks leading up to Christmas as retailers seek to clear out their holiday inventory.
  6. Let Advantage One Credit Union help
    If you’re having trouble covering your holiday expenses, or you want to get a head start on next year’s costs, let Advantage One Credit Union help! Here are three ways we can take the financial stress out of the holiday season:

    1. Skip-a-Payment
      We get it. The holidays are crazy expensive. That’s why we allow qualifying members to skip a payment on a qualifying loan this time of year without hurting their credit or defaulting on their loan. It’s extra breathing room, just when you need it most!
    2. Personal Loan
      If you can’t come up with the funds you need for the holidays, consider taking out a Winter Loan. Our fantastic terms and affordable rates make it a no-brainer!
    3. Christmas Club Account
      Spread the cost of the holidays across the year with an account created just for that purpose. You’ll set aside a little bit of money each month into your Christmas Club Account, and next year, when the holiday season rolls around, you’ll have all the funds you need on hand.

Don’t let financial stress ruin your holiday cheer this year. Follow our tips to keep your spending down, and stop by Advantage One Credit Union to see how we can help!

Your Turn:
How do you get through the holidays with your finances intact? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

Learn More:
thebalance.com
investopedia.com
mentalfloss.com

5 Apps To Download Before The Holiday Shopping Season

Before you start making your lists and checking them twice, check out our list of free apps that can help you save boatloads of money and stress this holiday season. It just may make holiday shopping fun again!

The Coupons App
Look up deals, coupons and special online promo codes from over 100,000 retailers on this nifty, free app. You can also find thousands of exclusive deals and offers at local chains and restaurants; sign up for alerts so you can be the first to know when your favorite stores and eateries are holding sale events or offers and get calendar reminders when your saved coupons are about to expire. Sign up now to find out why millions of happy users have trusted The Coupons App to help them save more since 2008.


Shopular
Another favorite coupon app, Shopular, gives you the latest scoop on deals and coupons as well as location-based notifications. The app prides itself on getting you the best price wherever you are, and will alert you to a retailer’s trending deals as soon as you walk into the store. Redeem coupons and deals on your phone, and join the Shopular community to share savings tips and tricks with thousands of cost-conscious shoppers.

 


Santa’s Bag
Kick off your holiday shopping this Black Friday with Santa’s Bag, a handy Christmas gift list app. This free app allows you to create and store your lists, monitor your holiday budget, track your purchases and count down the days remaining until Christmas. Never forget a gift or go over budget again with this popular ad-free app!

 

 


Price Cruncher
Love saving on gifts but hate the math it takes to figure out which deals are worthwhile? Try Price Cruncher, the app that does the dirty work for you. For a one-time fee of just $1, Price Cruncher compares different sales to let you know which is actually the better deal; helps you calculate the price per product when purchasing items in bulk and tells you what the final price of a for-sale item will be after all discounts and coupons are applied. Use the app’s integrated shopping list for an all-in-one experience that makes shopping easy!


Slice
If you hate elbowing your way through crowded shopping malls and you do most of your holiday shopping online, this is the one for you! Slice will organize all the receipts that land in your inbox and track your packages so you know exactly how much you’ve spent. The app will remind you of Groupons and other deals or coupons you might want to use based on your online spending habits, and will also send you alerts about price adjustments for products you’ve been searching for. Best of all, the app safely stores all of the order numbers, tracking information and descriptions of your purchases so you can easily pull them up when you want to check an order’s status or delivery time. No more digging through dozens of emails to find out when that gift will arrive on your doorstep!


Download these apps and start saving on your holiday shopping today!

Your Turn:
What’s your favorite shopping app? Tell us about it in the comments!

Learn More:
nerdwallet.com
shopular.com
paypath.com
slice.com
thecouponsapp.com