Keep the “Happy” in Your Happy Holidays

Savvy Tips for Stress-free Seasonal Spending

Article courtesy of Member One Federal Credit Union

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—and for many of us, it’s also the most expensive. We’re here to help with tips for maximizing the festivities while minimizing the financial frustration this holiday season. 

Use credit sensibly. Starting the new year with new debt is enough to make a Scrooge out of anyone. If you’re going to put your seasonal spending on a credit card, you need a plan in place to pay it off quickly. That means setting a shopping limit and sticking to it, as well as budgeting money each month to pay down the balance. Opt for a low-interest card and/or one that offers cash back rewards to get the most bang for your holiday buck. 

Shop securely. Not much can put a stop to your seasonal cheer faster than falling victim to credit card fraud or an online scam. While you’re busily scoring online deals, take a moment to ensure that any website you order from is secure by checking for “https” plus a padlock symbol at the beginning of the site’s URL field. Any device used for online shopping should be protected by up-to-date anti-virus software. Consider using PayPal, or if you choose to shop with a card, make it a credit card instead of a debit card to safeguard your bank accounts. 

Give experiences, not things. Cut the consumerism and the clutter this year by sharing experiences instead of exchanging stuff. Our local community is filled with activities that would make great gifted experiences. Consider giving tickets to a Rail Yard Dawgs hockey game or a Mill Mountain Theatre performance, paying for a YMCA membership, or treating a friend to an art class at the Taubman Museum. 

Volunteer. Stay in the spirit of the season with a group volunteer activity. In lieu of a holiday party, ask friends if they’d be interested in getting together for a cause. It’s less money spent on food, drink, and decorations, but more importantly, it’s a refreshing reminder of the real reasons behind the holidays and a chance to bond with your buddies while doing something meaningful. Volunteermatch.org is a good place to start looking for ideas. 

Save. Get ready for next year with a Christmas club savings account. The holidays will be back upon us sooner than we might imagine—just think how quickly 2018 went by! Starting a dedicated savings account early in 2019 can make next year’s holiday season even easier. With a Christmas club account, you make regular deposits from your paycheck each month, in any amount you choose. Then, you withdraw those funds at a specified date, usually in October, and begin your pre-budgeted holiday shopping. The trick: if you try to withdraw money before the set date, it will cost you a fee. Try keeping your receipts this holiday season to get an idea of how much to budget for 2019.

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.