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

Ways Your Credit Union Can Help You Fund Your Summer Vacation

womans legs and beatiful, tropical beach, water and mountains in the backgroundIf you’re like most Americans, as soon as you see ads announcing Memorial Day sale events, you start thinking summer. Summer means flip-flops and sandy beaches, sunscreen and baseball, fireworks and ice cream—and expensive vacations.

Perhaps you’re really needing to get away this summer, so you have the perfect vacation all planned out in your mind.

But how are you going to get around the steep price tag on your dream getaway? Do you pull out the plastic, make it happen and worry about paying your credit card bills only after you return home? Do you beg a loan off family and friends, putting your most important relationships at risk? Do you live off pasta in the weeks leading up to your vacation and use the money saved on groceries to cover the cost of your trip?

You don’t have to take extreme or irresponsible measures to fund the perfect summer vacation. As a member of Advantage One, you have access to a variety of convenient products that can help you cover the costs of your trip with minimal effort on your part.

Read on for ways Advantage One can send you packing for your dream summer getaway.

1. Vacation Savings Account

It’s easier to save up for a specific goal when you separate the funds you’re earmarking for that goal from all your other savings. When you open up a secondary savings account at Advantage One with the express purpose of using it to accumulate funds for your summer vacation, you’ll always know exactly how much money you’ve saved up for your getaway. Plus, your money will grow, so you’ll reach your goal sooner.

You may have already started saving up for summer expenses in your regular savings account. Move that money into your summer savings account now so your vacation funds are in one easy location.

To be certain you’re socking away enough money to cover your getaway, create a vacation budget now. Realistically, how much money will you need to cover the costs of your trip? Next, determine when you’d like to go and count the number of weeks or months left until your vacation date. Work out the exact amount you’ll need to save each week or month by dividing your total vacation budget by the number of weeks or months left to go before your trip. You can trim your budget, sell some stuff you don’t use anymore or take on a side hustle to come up with the necessary savings. Finally, link your checking account and your designated vacation savings account – and set up a direct deposit – so that your summer savings can grow almost effortlessly.

2.) Personal Loan

If you think you can’t possibly save up enough money to fund your vacation in time, consider taking out a Sunsational Summer loan instead.

When you take out a Sunsational Summer loan at Advantage One, you’ll get the funds you need to send you off on your dream getaway. And best of all, with our affordable rates, you won’t go broke paying it back! Speak to us today to find out more about this fantastic option.

3.) Skip-a-Payment

If you’re desperate for a vacation in more ways than one, consider taking a break from some of your financial responsibilities this summer. Advantage One allows qualifying members to skip one loan or credit card payment during this expensive time of year. By choosing Skip-a-Pay, you’ll get the break you need without hurting your credit or defaulting on the loan. However, your loan or balance payment plan will extend for another month, and the interest on the skipped payment will be integrated into the principal of your loan or bill.

Skipping a payment is not recommended for members who are struggling to get on top of their finances. But, if you’re in a financially comfortable place and just need some extra breathing room this time of year, skipping one monthly payment can be a great way to help you cover the costs of your summer getaway.

Get your vacation plans off the ground by stopping by Advantage One today. We have a broad range of products that can turn your dream vacation into a reality!

Your Turn:
Which Advantage One product helps you fund your summer vacation? Share your top pick with us in the comments!

SOURCES:

https://www.moneycrashers.com/save-up-fund-summer-vacation

https://www.theworkathomewoman.com/fund-your-summer-vacation/

https://www.fool.com/amp/retirement/2018/06/03/3-tips-to-save-for-your-summer-vacation.aspx

https://www.everydollar.com/blog/plan-your-vacation

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/skip_payment_mortgage.asp

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