The holidays for many of us are a time of cherishing moments together, even with this year looking and feeling a little different due to our current circumstances. Nonetheless it’s a time for traditions, a time of giving, and overall a time of joy. So, don’t let the financial responsibility that comes along with the holidays put a damper on the festivities, here are a few tips to help you stay financially fit and in control, even during the holidays.
1. Set and stick to your budget: I know hearing (reading) the word budget probably immediately sets a foul taste in your mouth as it may lead you to think about limits and constraints during an already stressful time, but on the positive side of things, it can also mean preventing you from over-extending yourself or worse, accumulating debt that you will have to pay for and worry about later. Setting a budget can help you better plan who you will shop for and how much you will spend for each person and depending on what your holiday expenses will look like, setting a budget can also help you plan ahead by adjusting your expenses during or before the holiday season. Whether you’re setting and sticking to a budget via a digital app, excel sheet, online, or via traditional pen and paper, make sure to leverage the tools available to keep you ahead of the game.
2. Shopping hacks for the win! With Black Friday and Cyber Monday now long behind us but with holiday shopping season still in full effect, know that there are still ways that you can shop smart, while also saving money. Here are some tips to consider:
- Maximize your savings with Social Media: Did you know that if you follow your favorite retailers on social media, you may be able to access additional discount codes or find out about specific sales that you may not find anywhere else? So, swipe, like, and cherish the savings.
- Online and Email Offers: Let’s be honest, most of us are living our lives online now adays, so why not use it to our benefit to find additional discounts by visiting our favorite retailers, keeping an eye on their emails for all those special offers. With many retailers now offering free shipping as well, it’s a great way to save all without having to leave the comfort (and safety of your home).
- Don’t forget about your rewards: Now is a good time to check your credit card or retailer accounts/apps to use up any available rewards. From getting additional discounts, potentially free merchandise, to using your rewards for gift cards, and more.
3. Shop Safely and Securely: As you’re enjoying the fun of shopping for your friends and loved ones, remember to stay safe and stay alert. As you’re looking online, keep an eye out on those website URLs and make sure you are on a secured site. One quick way to identify a secure site is by looking for “https” before the link. The “s” in this case stands for a securely verified site. Depending on your browser, you may also identify if a website is a secure site, simply by looking for a locked lock or an unlocked lock symbol. If it’s locked, it’s a sign that it’s a securely verified site if it’s unlocked, you may want to hold off on visiting the site.
Now, we know it’s hard to stay on top of it all, so another tip we offer is to set up Credit and/or Debit card alerts with your financial institution. These alerts can vary from usage alerts, to dollar amount charged, to even if the card is being used outside of a certain mile radius. Best of all, most financial institutions offer Card Alerts as a free service. Check them out, set them up, and sit back and relax with a little peace of mind knowing your financial institution is keeping an eye out for you.
For more financial tips and resources around budgeting, protecting your identity and more, visit www.partnersfcu.org/education
Cheers and Happy Holidays!