You might think that the middle of summer is too early to start thinking about the winter holidays. But believe it or not, July is a great month to begin planning and saving for the holiday season!
Now that the holidays are about six months away, it's an excellent time to prepare your budget for gifts, travel and other holiday-related expenses. Having a plan can help you avoid the stress of overspending when the holidays finally arrive!
Give your budget a head-start for the holiday season with these helpful tips:
- Set a goal
Create a budget and automate your savings
- Start by looking at your holiday-related expenses from the previous year. How much did you spend on things like gifts, cards, travel, babysitters or pet sitters, food, decorations, special events and parties? Add everything up to see your total spending — it might surprise you! Now, decide how much you want to spend this year. Are there any areas where you can cut back? Setting a realistic spending goal is the foundation of your holiday budget.
- Now that you know your spending limit, you can create a holiday budget and start saving. Make a list of the people you want to buy a gift for and how much you plan to spend on each gift. Then, assign dollar amounts to other spending categories like food, entertainment and travel.
- Consider setting up a short-term savings account for holiday expenses. Keeping these funds separate from your other accounts can help you stay organized and avoid spending them. Next, automate your savings by scheduling recurring transfers into your holiday savings account.
- When you're ready to start shopping, keep track of your spending using a helpful tool like Money Management, a free service of Wright-Patt Credit Union (WPCU) Mobile and Online Banking. Money Management makes it easy to view all your accounts in one place and see how well you're sticking to your budget.
- Want to beat the crowds and enjoy a more stress-free holiday season? Try to get some of your holiday shopping done early! Many stores have end-of-summer sales, so be on the lookout for gift ideas. If you plan to travel for the holidays, booking flights or hotel rooms months in advance can help you save.
- The sooner you're able to start planning and saving for the holidays, the better! This way, when December rolls around, you can focus on enjoying time with family and friends.
Ready for more tips and tools for smart money management? Visit our online Education Center for helpful videos, worksheets and interactive learning modules on a variety of financial education topics.