Tips & Resources

Smart Tips for Holiday Spending

Smart Tips for Holiday Spending

Today is Cyber Monday, the first business day after one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year that includes Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Small Business Saturday. On Cyber Monday, retailers offer online-only promotions that rival and sometimes surpass in-store Black Friday deals. While it can be tempting to sit down at your computer or tablet and take advantage of these discounts, it’s very easy to go overboard with your spending. We’ve put together some smart tips for holiday spending that are useful any day for both online and in-store shopping.

Create a Holiday Budget

If you haven’t already created your holiday spending budget, it’s not too late. Make a list of everyone who will need gifts, including family members, friends, co-workers, kids’ teachers, and service professionals like your mail carrier or hairstylist. You should also include any meals, entertainment, decorations, travel, donations, or other holiday expenses. Many people only think about how much they’ll spend on gifts, so taking these costs into consideration can be eye-opening. This makes creating a holiday budget even more essential.

Set Limits

During the season of giving, we want to show our love and appreciation for the important people in our lives. To stay within your budget, however, it’s necessary to set – and stay within – limits. That limit could be a pre-determined dollar amount, the number of gifts per person, or a combination of both.

This can be tricky with children who count and compare the amount and size of packages with the ones their siblings or cousins receive. Setting expectations early on can help prevent green-eyed Grinchiness at family gatherings. Establish reasonable guidelines for wish lists and letters to Santa. Create or continue family gift-giving traditions, such as drawing names, exchanging only handmade gifts, or following trends like the Four-Gift Rule: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.

Shop Thoughtfully

With so many TV commercials, pop-up ads, in-store signage, and other forms of advertising coming at us from all directions during the holiday season, it’s not unusual to find impulse items in your shopping bags when you return home. Be mindful about your purchases. Take the time to really think about the person you’re shopping for and what gifts they will truly appreciate. What might seem like an amazing deal won’t be meaningful if it’s not something they truly want or need. Before you check out (either online or in the store), take a few moments to thoughtfully review each item in your cart. And if possible, don’t wait until the last minute, when gift selections (and time) are limited.

Manage Your Email Subscriptions

Have you checked your email today? Most likely, you’ve received an email (or two) from every retailer you’ve ever shopped with or has offered email-only promotions. Take some time during this busy shopping season to manage your mailing list subscriptions. If you haven’t shopped with a company for some time, no longer need their products, or simply want to minimize the number of emails you receive, update your preferences or unsubscribe. You can’t shop impulsively if you don’t receive the email promoting the item.

Plan Ahead

As you finalize your shopping lists and online orders, take notes. Use a special notebook or an app to keep track of all your purchases, including costs, retailers, and any special promotions. After family gatherings, jot down what worked and what didn’t, including gifts, food, and entertainment. Next year, you might be able to cut back on or eliminate menu items or spend less on décor. If the amount you spend for the holidays seems overwhelming, you may want to consider setting money aside each month to prepare for next year’s expenses.

The Bank of Elk River offers a wide variety of budgeting, savings, and other personal banking resources. Contact us today.

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