piggy bank ornament in front of a red christmas tree.

'Tis the Season for Saving!

By Jillian Stone, Caseworker, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) and Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC) Candidate, FINRA Foundation Fellow

The holidays are quickly approaching, and with the glitter and glam can come stress, anxiety, and impulse. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Consider using some of these tips to keep from being overwhelmed, overworked, and overspent!

Set and stick to a budget

Think about what you can truly afford to spend, while still paying your regular expenses and contributing to savings goals. Don’t stop working towards your long-term plans just to satisfy temporary holiday gift-giving urges!

Bonus tip: Do a post-holiday reflection. Review your spending and really explore if there is anything you could do differently for the next holiday season. 

Gifts 

Before the holidays, have conversations with friends and family about gifts. Do you have large groups that you typically buy for? Consider drawing names instead of having to give to each person. Most importantly, avoid turning gift giving into a competition. It’s easy to compete with yourself, family, and friends. Take a breath and remember that sometimes the most meaningful gifts don’t cost a lot and don’t even have to be a “thing,” but rather an experience

Listen up!

When talking with friends and family, listen to what they say. Pick up on those cues for what they like, and more importantly, what they don’t like. Make a mental note, or even better, put it in your phone or write it down. This will be handy when it comes time to gift buying, and can keep you from grabbing impulsive and budget-busting gifts.

Make a list, and check it twice

Sounds cliché, right? But making a list keeps you on track. Whether in your wallet, your purse, or your smartphone, keep it where you would most use it. Consider using an app on your phone for tracking. Having an easily accessible list will allow you to keep all your holiday planning on track, from gifts to grub and everything in between.

Set it and forget it

Consider setting expenses and savings to auto-pay. Life is already busy, and we’re being pulled in different directions more than ever before. Free up some mental bandwidth by automating your finances. We can forget due dates, which can create all sorts of costly headaches-termination of service, late fees, interest charges, and reconnection fees. Avoid these by enrolling in auto-pay. You can also set up email and text alerts to be sent before your due date to help manage those bills.

Save time, too

Too often we think about our budget in only dollars and cents. It’s also important to think about your personal time and how you assign value to that time. Consider stacking errands to save time, money, fuel, and energy. Use a map app to lay out your errands in the most efficient way. Consider teaming up with a friend or family member for an errand date. This is something we love and can attest to its immense benefits.

Take care of YOU!

It’s critical to get enough rest. Study after study has shown us when we’re feeling fatigued, we don’t make the best financial decisions. Taking care of your health should be at the top of any holiday to-do list. Make sure to stay hydrated and full. When we get busy, it can be easy to skip a meal or grab something at the nearest convenience store. Those costs can add up. Save money and calories by packing a healthy snack and drink to have with you while running errands. 

Guard yourself!

The holidays are prime time for food, fun, and the unfortunate holiday theft. Protect yourself before going out to those holiday parties or braving the crowds at the local mall.

  • We tend to keep a lot of financial information on our mobile phones. Make sure it’s password protected; know how to locate it if it’s missing, and how to remotely wipe the device if it’s unrecoverable.
  • Carrying around a lot of reward and membership cards on your key ring or in your wallet? Forgetting the cards when you need them? Consider lightening your load by moving them to an app on your smartphone.
  • Check your bank accounts frequently, and report any suspicious activity immediately.
  • Consider using a mobile payment service on your phone for added security and efficiency. Read more about the benefits of digital wallets here.
  • Traveling out of your normal spending area? Notify your credit card company to avoid the freezing of your card due to charges in unfamiliar areas.
  • Lastly, keep only what’s truly necessary in your wallet. Don’t carry every card you have. This will help minimize the potential for loss and headache that comes with a lost or stolen wallet, along with reducing the temptation to use all of the cards.

Spending less is just the first part of a successful financial plan. Put away the money you save during the holidays into a savings account for future expenses, both anticipated and unexpected ones. Those with a savings plan are twice as likely to save successfully. Let America Saves help you reach your savings and debt reduction goals. It all starts when you make a commitment to yourself to save. That’s what our pledge is all about. Learn more about how to save money for the future here. 

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Santa's not the only one who benefits from making a list and checking it twice. 8 holiday savings tips here >> http://bit.ly/2iyjT1q 

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