Step 1 - Know Where You Stand Financially
- Review your overall budget
- Review last year's holiday spending
- Develop a list of all possible expenses
- Include friends, family, co-workers, teacher's gifts, special meals and parties, decor
Step 2 - Set a Reasonable Holiday Budget
- Talk to your spouse, friends and family first
- Discuss spending early and honestly
- Include those you exchange big gifts with
- Don't compromise your savings plan or living expenses for holiday spending
Step 3 - Get Creative and Have Fun!
- Become a digital coupon clipper
- Comparison shop online: download Amazon.com Price Check App
- Plan for Cyber Monday: December 1
- Big gifts don't have to have big price tags
- Cook a meal for a family member or good friend, or send a box of your special holiday cookies or a beautiful calendar of photos of the family. If you want to give a gift that is truly meaningful, don't just give them something they could easily get from a store.
- Involve your kids!
- Come up with some events or activities you can do together. Put tickets to a movie, or pamphlets from a museum, or pictures of an entertainment event in a fancy box under the tree.
- Check your overdraft protection and credit card balances. Make sure you have enough funds in your checking, savings or money market account so you don't overdraft and incur unnecessary fees. These can really add up. Linking your savings account or a line of credit as overdraft protection can help you avoid costly fees in case of an overdraft.
- Keep receipts and monitor your true spending. Get an envelope and maintain all receipts, stick a note pad and pen in there and keep track of truly what you're spending this year!
- Monitor your account activity regularly. Fraudulent activity is on the rise. Review all credit card and checking transaction activity on your account weekly, and review your credit report. It's completely free at www.annualcreditreport.com. You're allowed to check each of the major credit bureau reporting (Equifax, Experian and Trans Union) annually at no charge.
- Plan for next year. Once you know a reasonable amount to spend this year and then by actually reviewing receipts to know what you've actually spent, divide that amount by the number of pay periods in a yea and set up a special account at your credit union to begin regularly depositing electronically for next year.
- Give yourself a quick financial review online at www.mymoneycheckup.org, a free online assessment tool from the National foundation for Credit Counseling. You'll answer questions about your budget, savings, home expenses and retirement to help you know where you stand.