Between gift-giving, traveling and hosting, the most wonderful time of the year is also one of the most expensive.
During the holidays, it’s also dangerously easy to throw caution to the wind when it comes to your budget. After all, what’s another $50 on a treat for yourself when you’ve already spent $500 on everyone else…?
An occasional indulgence won’t break the bank, but if you succumb to too much spending temptation, your holiday budget could go off the rails. Here are a few tips to help keep spending in check this holiday season.
1. Build a budget with wiggle room.
Expect the unexpected and create a holiday budget that leaves room for surprise costs. You never know when you’ll need to buy a last-minute gift for an unexpected guest at family dinner.
If you’re traveling, remember to plan for expenses like gas, cabs or ride shares, and food at the airport. Decide in advance what you’ll spend on gifts; pick a dollar amount for each person on your list. If you shop with a plan to spend a maximum of $40 per person, for example, it’s easier to stick to your budget and avoid going overboard.
2. Use rewards to offset costs (or to treat yourself).
All year long, you earn points on bank cards and credit cards. Now, it’s time to put those points to work!
Check each of your cards to see if you’ve earned cashback or rewards that you can redeem for gift cards and retail goods. If you have a WaterStone Bank Debit Card, you can redeem your ScoreCard® Rewards Card points for branded merchandise and travel, which can make a serious dent in holiday expenses.
3. Find joy in the season without spending.
You don’t need to spend money to make the most of the holidays. Take a tip from Real Simple and resist the urge to stock up on seasonal décor that you don’t really need, or trendy toys that will only entertain the kids for a few hours. Instead, embrace the season’s joyful moments that don’t cost a dime, whether that means sledding with the family, sharing stories among friends or watching the snow fall from your window.