Holiday shopping should not impact the ability to be able to pay necessary bills, which makes creating a budget and following it that much more important.
“I say the biggest message that I try to get across is sticking to a budget,” stated April Sanderson, financial counselor with LSS Financial Counseling, a service of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. “Not only does this help to truly enjoy the holidays and reduce stress, but it also prevents the ‘holiday blues’ that come after trying to figure out how to get the budget back on track or catch up if something feel behind or credit card debt rose.”
Tips for those shopping this holiday season, that Sanderson highlights, include:
- Set a budget and stick to it.
- When in doubt about what to buy someone – go consumable vs material (something that can be used is much better than a “thing” that they have to find a place for, etc.).
- If there are kiddos that get “too much stuff” (parents’ words), consider buying something small they can open and gifting the rest in a savings account, bond, or adding to/starting a 529 plan.
- For families that rarely get together – can an experience replace gifts? Making memories can be more valuable than the “latest & greatest”
Sanderson said by thinking about holiday spending early, it helps people feel confident in their finances. “I’m not saying shop all year round, but at least SAVE all year round,” she said. “There are great products to do this in a way that the savings is ‘out of sight’ until the Holidays – such as a Christmas Account, etc.”
The North Star Credit Union offers savings accounts, so with less than 23 days until Christmas, this is a gift that you could give by starting a savings account now and putting money in starting in January. That way, based on budget, you have a gift that will give and encourage someone to save.
Sanderson provides financial counseling to North Star Credit Union members. Each member receives six free and confidential financial counseling sessions.
To set up a free session, contact LSS Financial at 1-888-577-2227.