What You Should Know About Budgeting for the Holidays This Year

A person handing another person a small box with a bow.

Nervous about holiday spending? Many people spend the bulk of their earnings as the holidays approach, and there’s nothing wrong with celebrating in style! But some shoppers don’t realize until the January bills arrive just how much they’ve depleted their savings. While holiday shoppers tend to be savvy, they are still expecting to spend more than before on gifts, entertainment, travel expenses and other items due to higher costs.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to budget wisely as the holiday season approaches – before hitting the stores and “Send” buttons online, if possible.

Consumers can get a head start by keeping an eye out for:

  1. Discounts
  2. Generous return policies
  3. Holiday sales
  4. Free shipping
  5. Loyalty programs at Currency Exchanges

Here are five additional pieces of wisdom to keep in mind this year to help cash-strapped revelers stay on track.

1. Americans Are Spending More, Regardless of Their Savings

One general piece of info to be aware of as you get caught up in the holiday spirit is that Americans of all economic levels appear open to spending their hard-earned dollars.

That may be a sign of optimism, but it can also be a warning to those who don’t have much of a contingency budget set aside for unexpected events that may require financing in the near future. The holiday season is about enjoying the moment with friends and family – and that should be celebrated! Just try to do so with an eye toward smart spending, not overindulging.

2. Creating a Detailed Budget for Each Item Protects Against Overspending

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, especially when you’re in search of the perfect gift that tells loved ones just how much they mean to you. With that in mind, a smart, simple step that everyone can take is to create a budget for each expenditure. All that requires is making a list of everyone you plan to shop for and a maximum amount for each item. Doing so will keep you from tipping into overspending on every cool gift idea that catches your eye.

Don’t forget to include other seasonal expenses in your overall budget, such as:

  1. Food and beverages
  2. Holiday shows
  3. Hostess gifts
  4. Secret Santas
  5. Home decorations
  6. Baking ingredients
  7. Travel expenses
  8. Gas for additional driving

3. Your Dollars Can Be Stretched Further at Currency Exchanges

You might be surprised by some of the successful yet smaller ways people take to stretch their dollars. According to the National Education Association (NEA), carrying larger denominations of cash can dissuade shoppers from buying cheap but unnecessary items. You may tell yourself it’s just loose change, but tossing too many $1, $5 and $10 bills on those small stocking stuffers adds up.

It’s a common way to overspend without realizing it. And those larger bills can be picked up at any time at a CFSC Currency Exchange near you. Just come on by with a check to cash and we’ll hand you your money in the denominations of your choice.

4. Less Expensive Gift Cards Are Available for Purchase This Year

Gifts cards are an incredibly popular gift item in this country for those hard-to-shop-for people on our gift lists. They’re convenient when you’re running out of time. But did you know that there is a way to save money when purchasing them?

The NEA also points out that “warehouse stores sell them for well under their redemption value.” You may need to do a little digging to locate the best deals. Start by searching online for alternative sites where goods and gift cards from popular retailers are sold for less than their market value. It will be worth

it when you’re not left with post-holiday shopping regrets this year.

5. Local CFSC Has Other Ways to Help You Stay on Budget This Holiday Season

What else can you do to enhance your personal finance situation? Take advantage of convenient services at your local Community Financial Service Center (CFSC) – many of which you may not even know about. Here are a few things we do that can help keep more dollars in a person’s pocket:

  • Convert unused gift cards into cash
  • Provide discounts through CFSC rewards program
  • Load cash onto your prepaid debit card

We also cash any check within minutes, offer prepaid cell phone services, and take care of numerous other financial tasks for those who need them on the spot. Visit your closest CFSC location to discover how else CFSC currency exchanges help families stay on budget during the holiday season.

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