Holiday Budgeting Advice to Help You Save

October 7, 2016 | Mission Fed

The holidays are right around the corner, which means vacations, entertaining guests and plenty of gifts for friends and family. With all the fun you’re having during the holidays, you shouldn’t have to worry about having enough money or overspending and bursting your budget. Here are some tips to help you plan and budget so that doesn’t happen.

1. Create your budget.

If you’re not sure where to begin, use last year’s expenses as a general gauge of how much money you’ll need for this time of year. Consider the areas where you spent more money than planned. And then categorize your expense list to better understand your habits and priorities, including:

  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Gifts
  • Meals
  • Decor

From here, estimate how much you can afford to spend for each. Keep in mind even small expenses like office gifts, cards and clothes for festivities, and set aside some cash for those items, too. Shipping tends to be the cost that most people forget to consider. If you’re buying gifts online or sending gifts to loved ones who live far away, shipping costs can add up fast. Try to find free shipping deals where available.

2. Start saving now—it’s not too late!

Financial planners suggest that you should stick to about 1.5 percent of your annual gross income for your holiday budget, but you can decide to set your budget higher or lower based on your expenses and timeline. For example, if you need $600 to meet additional expenses by mid-December and start saving in the beginning of October, you’ll need to allocate roughly $60 a week to your holiday budget. You might consider even setting up a Mission Fed Holiday Saver Savings Account outside of your personal Savings or Checking Account to ensure that you put money aside for your holiday needs and don’t mistakenly spend it on something else—plus you can earn dividends on the money you save.

3. Travel smart.

You can have fun and travel easily without going over your budget. Here are some tips for going on vacation during the holidays:

  • Put money aside with a credit union savings account​ and keep track of your spending goals.
  • Use the Mission Rewards points earned with your Mission Fed Credit Card on hotel rooms and airfare, or simply build up more points for cash back.
  • Keep an eye out for special deals and packages that bundle together airfare, hotel reservations and car rentals.
  • Consider camping or taking a simple road trip. The wilderness offers plenty of adventures and memories to share, and campground reservations are usually significantly less than a hotel room.

4. Get creative with your gifts.

You probably have some people in your life who you’d like to give a gift to but don’t have room in your budget for. Reserve your big purchases for those who mean the most to you. For those not on your priority list, but whom you’d still like to give a little something to, remember that homemade gifts, thoughtful cards and baked goods are just as meaningful. Or if you’re stuck trying to think of the perfect gift, a Mission Fed Visa Gift Card could be the right alternative.

5. Make some extra cash.

If you need a little extra cash, take a look through your closets and storage for old things to sell, from clothes to unused electronics, just make sure to remove your personal information from all electronics first. If you’re not sure how to remove your information from the device you plan to sell, contact a professional for help. You can post these goods online or go analog and hold a yard sale. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

6. Develop good money habits.

The holidays are a great time to begin developing healthy money-spending habits and personal finance strategies that can carry over to the long term. Do simple things to cut down on costs, including:

  • Making your own coffee instead of visiting the café every day
  • Using the library instead of buying or paying to stream books and DVDs
  • Considering the monthly services and subscriptions (phone, cable, magazines, newspapers) that you pay for and eliminating those that you rarely use

Starting good habits during the holidays can carry into the new year and make for a great resolution. Whether you’re shopping at the mall or online in your living room, we hope this holiday season is your best yet!


The content provided in this blog consists of the opinions and ideas of the author alone and should be used for informational purposes only. Mission Federal Credit Union disclaims any liability for decisions you make based on the information provided. References to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name in this article by Mission Federal Credit Union is for the information and convenience of its readers and does not constitute endorsement, control or warranty by Mission Federal Credit Union.

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