Unless you have a magical, bottomless bag of toys like Santa, you’ll likely want to set a holiday gift budget. For the best success, make a gift-giving plan before you even start shopping. Come January, your wallet will thank you for it. Give yourself the best gift of all this holiday—a solid financial start to the new year. Here’s a list of five savvy ways to save this season:
1. Make a list…and check it twice
Think like Santa and plan ahead. Allocate a budget for the whole season. In addition to gifts, include decorations, extra meals, and special events. Make a list of all the people to whom you want to give a gift and group each person into a spending category: $50 per sibling, $30 per neighbor, $25 per teacher, and so on. Allow plenty of time to shop with your list in mind—stick to it and pace yourself. If you shop at the last minute, you could be tempted to overspend.
2. Start a new tradition
Another way to cut costs is to draw names between family members and friend groups, so everyone is buying for only one person. Consider exchanging white elephant presents or playing a silly game for a fun twist on gifting. A theme and a spending limit help keep everyone on the same page. Swap ornaments, mugs, games, or t-shirts—see just how creative everyone can get!
3. Let your credit card work for you
The right credit or debit card can actually save you money during gift-giving season. Some cards offer rewards each time you use your card – like earning points for each dollar spent. Credit cards often come with apps that interface with a smartphone so you can quickly check your expenses in real time as well as set spending alerts and get notifications each time a purchase is made.
4. Tap into your skills
Use your talents to create gifts. Consider handcrafting gifts this holiday. Get inspired by Etsy shops or Pinterest. Homemade gifts usually take a little extra effort but are generally more economical and received with joy. If you are a budding chef, give food gifts: pies, fresh bread, soup. Give coupons for services you can provide, like yard work, dog-walking, or babysitting.
5. Think outside the (gift) box
The true point of the holidays is to share time together. Instead of exchanging gifts among family or friends, do something memorable together. Host a wine-tasting party, cookie exchange, or potluck dinner. Start an annual snowball fight, go caroling in your neighborhood, or take on a holiday service project together. Get a block of tickets to the ballet or a concert. The possibilities are endless.
You deserve a holiday that is both affordable and enjoyable. With a little creativity, helpful tools, and planning, you can savor the season of giving without the stress of breaking the bank.
With Panorama, First Financial Bank’s easy-to-use money management tool, you can track, manage and analyze all of your accounts in one place. Available within online banking, you can use Panorama to help stick to a realistic holiday budget this year by adding all your credit card, bank and loan accounts, so you can get a complete financial picture. Watch this video and discover how it can work for you this holiday season.
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