- Beth Ann Tabak
A quick guide to surviving the Holidays
We’re so close to Thanksgiving, which means that the Holiday season is upon us. For a lot of us, the most wonderful time of the year can feel overwhelming as the shopping, parties, baking, decorating, and general spending can take on a life of their own. With some help from KOFE (Knowledge of Financial Education), here are a few tips to put yourself back in charge during the Holidays to make sure that you start the New Year on the right financial foot.
Get organized and create a budget
There’s that budget again! Start off on the right foot by organizing yourself. Take account of everything that you will need to buy in the coming weeks: food, gifts, decorations, wrapping paper, travel – anything that comes with the holidays. Assign a dollar amount to each item. If the overall cost is higher than what you have to spend, see where you can trim. KOFE offers a planning worksheet in its own Holiday Survival Guide that makes this easy.
Stick to the plan
Yes, there is much to be said for the joy created by giving the perfect gift. But, if the gift goes over your budget, that joy will be easily overshadowed by the stress of a high credit card statement that causes interest to pile up. Start comparison shopping as early as possible by reviewing weekly advertisements, online shopping, and browsing during your weekly errands. Remember that sales are for more than Black Friday and Cyber Monday. When you do begin buying, keep your receipts and track your costs in your planning worksheet.
Even though it’s easy to do this time of year, don’t impulse-buy. Remember that shopping list and budget we talked about earlier? Buy only the items on that list within that budget. If it comes down to the fact that you can’t afford to buy a gift, then don’t buy it. Your wallet and your credit score will thank you in the long run.
When completing your holiday shopping list, try to stick to a cash or debit card-only approach. This can actually help you spend less because you have to pay your bill now. But, if you want to use a credit card for your purchases, use one that rewards you, such as the 7 17 Visa Rewards Platinum Credit Card with the ScoreCard Rewards program. It offers one point for every dollar you spend, redeemable for rewards like gift cards, travel discounts, merchandise or 1% cash back for your purchases.
Remember, to make a credit card rewards program work for you, pay off your balance within the statement period. Otherwise, interest will accumulate and those rewards won’t be as rewarding.
Focus on enjoying the experience
Try not to lose sight of the fact that it’s a season for celebrating. With all that comes with the almost six weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the stress that comes along with planning and spending. Look for things that don’t cost money but bring enjoyment for you and your family. Check your local calendar for parades, museum displays or seasonal shows. Create a fun family project, such as cookie decorating, volunteering throughout the season at your favorite charity or performing random acts of kindness. And, remember, sometimes it’s OK to say “no” to the extra party or dinner if it means preserving your time and sanity a little bit. When it comes down to it, don’t you remember your holidays by the experiences?
For an in-depth look at Holiday Survival Guide please visit: www.717cu.com/KOFE. Once you proceed to the KOFE site, select financial publications from the KOFE TABLE drop-down menu. 7 17 has partnered with KOFE (Knowledge of Financial Education) to provide free financial education tools to help support members’ long-term financial health. Resources include publications, videos and more. Plus, you have free access to financial coaches, seven days a week!