The holidays are a season for giving and spending time with family and friends, and this year, many people are looking forward to gathering with loved ones once again. But with rising inflation affecting the cost of groceries, gas and consumer goods coupled with supply chain issues threatening to impact the availability of gift items this holiday season, many people are feeling the squeeze on their holiday budgets. Holiday spending can be a source of financial stress. A little planning, prioritizing and creativity can go a long way this holiday season.

Here are 10 budgeting ideas to help you create a merry and less financially stressful holiday season.

1. Set a Spending Plan – Determine how much you can afford to spend in total and where the money will come from. Ideally, these funds will come out of your available cash and savings to avoid running up credit card debt.

2. Identify All Possible Expenses – Planning can really help control holiday spending. Make a list off all the things you may want to spend money on including gifts, food, decorations, gift wrap, cards and postage, clothing, travel, holiday activities and charitable giving.

3. Prioritize Spending – If it seems your holiday budget won’t be able to cover all the things on your expense list, you’ll want to set some priorities. Go through your list and choose the items that are most important to you to make the holidays meaningful, then plan to allocate your holiday money towards those.

4. Managing Spending Per Person on Your List – Divide your gift-giving budget and set spending amounts for the people you will give individual gifts to so you can stay on track. Consider talking with family members to set budget limits on spending for each person. Think about using gift exchange ideas like Secret Santa to reduce the number of gifts each person has to buy.

5. Shop Smart – Make your dollars go further by shopping strategically. Take advantage of early holiday shopping deals as well as the traditional Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. Use price comparison apps like ShopSavvy to find the best deals. When shopping online, take advantage of browser extensions like Capital One Shopping, Ibotta and Rakuten for specials and coupons to help save more. You can even find good deals on resale sites such as eBay.

6. Choose Credit Card Over Debit – Shopping with a credit card offers more security from potential fraud. Using a card that offers rewards or cash back is another smart holiday budgeting move. If you are going to shop and spend money, you might as well get something back.

7. Stay On Top of Your Spending – Reviewing your account statements, paying your bills regularly and using online banking to monitor your accounts are all great ways to stay within your holiday budget.

8. Share DIY Holiday Gifts – Homemade gifts are a great way to save money while creating something special for the people you care about. Social media sites like Pinterest offers dozens of terrific holiday gift ideas you can make yourself including food gifts, crafts, home décor, jewelry and more.

9. Create Less Costly Traditions – Look for ways to enjoy the holidays with the people you care about most while spending less money. Hosting a potluck or cookie swap with friends or family is a great way to entertain without covering the cost of the entire get together. Create great memories with loved ones with other affordable holiday activities like sledding or snowshoeing, baking, or making crafts together, creating a holiday movie night, playing games, or even volunteering for a local charity.

10. Set Up a Holiday Savings Account Now – If you automatically save a little bit every week or month throughout the year, you will have money set aside for the holiday’s next year. Having a holiday savings fund can help reduce financial stress that often comes with he holidays.

For more information about budgeting, saving and other money questions you may have, schedule an appointment here to speak with a Town & Country representative or visit www.tcfcu.com.

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