By: Ann Hall – VP of Communications
The holidays are around the corner, this is a time we like to focus on making traditions and sharing with loved ones. It’s also a time when people want to celebrate and splurge a little, let’s face it, who isn’t ready to put this year to bed and go all-out to ring in 2021? To prepare for this season people take a serious look at their checkbook and start planning for the holidays and how to accommodate growing wish lists. Fortunately, we have some holiday financial tips to help you keep track of how much you're spending.
According to the 2019 Holiday Survey of Consumers, prepared by Deloitte, U.S. households spent an average of $1,496 during the holidays last year. The accounting firm expects retail sales to rise somewhat this year. Unfortunately, the economic impacts of the pandemic may mean that some households need to be a little more creative than usual about their spending this holiday season. It helps to have a solid plan in place to help stretch resources as much as possible.
5 Holiday Spending Tips to Help You Stay on Budget
1. Developing a holiday game plan starts with a budget.
Set aside some time to think about everything that goes into holiday celebrations, not just the gift-giving aspect. When we think of holiday spending, we typically think about buying presents. Gifts are certainly a big part of any budget but don’t overlook other basics that add up quickly, such as food and drink for those special meals, decorations, gift wrap, and even holiday cards and postage.
Once all items are accounted for, check around the home for surplus items from previous years, such as gift wrap or decorations, that will suffice for this year and help reserve some funds for other uses. Then, begin allocating dollar amounts to each item, being specific with limits to have sound guidelines in place as retailers start rolling out enticing promotions.
2. Determine an amount AND stick with it.
If you’re in the midst of shopping, take a look at your spending history and determine how much you’ve already spent. If you’ve still got some gifts to buy, then determine the remaining maximum amount you can afford to spend and stick with it – no matter what. Your finances need to come before gift giving, and true friends will understand if that means no gift this year.
3. Introduce some separation between funds.
Many people have success staying within a budget by being diligent about keeping their holiday funds separate from their regular spending or checking accounts. WaFd Bank offers a *Free checking account that could fill such a purpose and comes with features any holiday shopper would need: an ATM/debit card, online banking, mobile banking, bill pay and external transfers.
A dedicated holiday spending account can really simplify your recordkeeping during a hectic time of year. You can get a quick view of how much you’ve saved or spent, and by sticking to the cash in your account, you can avoid running up credit card debt. Additionally, you can set up automatic transfers to your dedicated holiday account, helping you to build up your savings over the course of a year with little effort.
4. Make sure your bank and accounts are working for you.
As we approach the holidays and the end of the year, it’s a good time to stop and ask if you’re getting what you need from your bank or if another bank could provide more value. For example, with the WaFd *Green Checking account clients may enroll in IDProtect, an identity theft and resolution service that can offer peace of mind, particularly during the holiday shopping season. Plus, you get cell phone damage and replacement insurance for up to three mobile phones in your household and shopping discounts at many of the places you shop.
5. Celebrating during a pandemic.
Although the pandemic will impact how holiday celebrations get underway, you can make a personal decision that the spirit of the season will not be lost. Look for ways to get the most from your hard-earned dollars, then, create a holiday season to remember — for reasons other than COVID-19!”
*Free Checking: Account requires twenty-five dollars, eStatements registration and direct deposit to open. Overdraft and return item fees may apply.
*Green checking: Green checking requires twenty-five dollars to open and costs six dollars per month. Overdraft and return fees may apply. Discounts are not FDIC insured. Activation and registration required, no interest earned.
Ann Hall: Communications and Community Relations Manager for WAFD Bank since 2011.
As VP of Marketing Communications she champions numerous marketing efforts and enjoys writing about financial literacy and personal finance. Hall also executes the duties of community relations liaison on the board of the Washington Federal Foundation which helps fund hundreds of community projects and events through non-profits each year.
Her steady enthusiasm and in-depth business acumen help introduce the WaFd brand and values into the market.