The joy of the holidays is on the horizon - and with it, unfortunately, can come the headaches of holiday spending. But don't let financial stress pull you away from what really matters most this season. Instead, try these tips to get a head start on smart spending.
Create a holiday budget
Start by reviewing your monthly income and expenses. Be realistic about how much additional money you can afford to spend during the holiday season. Plan for all anticipated holiday expenses, including gifts, meals, decorations, and travel. If your budget comes up short, look for small ways to temporarily scale back. For example, make coffee at home and bring your lunch to work. If you plan to use credit cards for holiday shopping, set a limit and have a plan to pay off the balance quickly.
Make a list
Make a list of people you want to buy gifts for and set a per-person spending limit. If you're feeling pressured to purchase a gift for everyone from your co-workers to your book club pals, suggest drawing names for a gift exchange. Sticking to your list can also help curb impulse buys.
Look for creative, low-cost ways to celebrate
Are you known for creative talents like photography, baking, or knitting? Use these skills to add a personalized touch to your holiday gift giving - and decorating - while minimizing expenses. Instead of an expensive holiday party, consider hosting a potluck or a cookie swap.
There's no rule that says you have to wait for the holiday season to officially kick off before your start shopping. Starting early and taking advantage of pre-holiday sales can help you save money and spread out your holiday expenses. Plus, you'll avoid the last minute holiday rush, which almost always leads to overspending. If you're mailing packages, be sure to pay attention to shipping deadlines.
Look for deals
Sign up for email or text alerts from your favorite retailers so you can be ready for special holiday offers. Download your favorite discount, retailer or coupon apps, and take advantage of free shipping codes when shopping online. Finally, maximize your savings by using discount sites like Groupon and Retailmenot.
Open a holiday savings account
Plan for next year's holiday season by making monthly contributions to a dedicated holiday spending account. Consider setting up automatic withdrawals from your checking account to conveniently build your savings throughout the year. A separate account can also make it easier to track and manage your holiday expenses.
With a little planning now, you can enjoy the season with family and friends and avoid overspending, too. To jump-start your holiday savings, visit your local Westfield Bank branch or call 800.368.8930 to learn more about our savings account options.