Makin’ a List, Checkin’ it Twice

Friday, October 04 at 10:40 AM
Category: Personal Finance

It won’t be long until the holiday lights start going up, and the merchandising in stores changes to red and green.

It seems like the holiday season kicks off earlier and earlier each year, and sometimes that also means the arrival of stress over holiday spending. But don’t let debt be the Grinch that steals your holiday fun.

Instead, follow these spending tips to make this holiday season – and the new year – a happy one:

  • Making a list is one of the best things we can do to maintain fiscal health for the holidays. By planning gift purchases, we can put aside sufficient funds to pay for the holidays and not carry over balances into the New Year. A list also helps keep us on track and minimize impulse purchasing when we just don’t know what to get Grandpa Joe. Consider using a register or tracking log to keep spending on track.
  • Many financial pundits eschew credit cards to manage spending, but consider this -- most credit cards offer some type of rewards program. As long as the credit card is paid off each month, there are no finance charges (interest) and no fees. Another good idea if you plan to buy with a credit card is to take that cash, put it aside in an envelope for that holiday gift list and use it to pay off the credit card bill when it arrives in the mail or inbox. Consider paying the bill right after the purchase to make sure the holiday money isn’t spent elsewhere and to stay ahead of the due date. Use online banking and bill pay services to make the payment any time. Then enjoy rewards points that can be used for gift cards or travel, and avoid that New Year’s credit card balance hangover.
  • Give more gift cards. It’s easy to spend an extra $5 here and $10 there as you search for just the right gifts. With a gift card, you’ll spend exactly what you intended to spend.
  • Here’s another great gift idea: Treat yourself to a Christmas Club account, available at select Arvest locations, to prepare for next year’s holiday purchases. Visit select Arvest branches to open a Christmas Club account that only allows deposits during the year. The lump sum saved throughout the year will be transferred into your Arvest checking or savings account just in time for holiday purchases. Set up an automatic transfer to the Club account each month or payday to build a holiday nest egg. It also helps develop the habit of saving.
  • Some of the most heartfelt gifts are the ones we make. Have a baking weekend with the kids! Oh what fun it is to … sprinkle colored sugar and nibble on chocolate chips as a family. The personal treasures made with love create a holiday to remember. Think of the joy a collection of digital photos will bring to family members that live far away – or even next door!
  • Instead of throwing a holiday party and buying silly gifts for friends or co-workers, why not organize a group volunteer day? Instead of wasting money on gifts that may or may not get used, spend some meaningful time with your friends or co-workers, and make the world a better place in the process. There are plenty of worthy causes, after all, and if you take a few pictures during your volunteer effort, you’ll have a truly worthy memento.

Hopefully, these spending tips will help prepare you for the holiday season and maybe even set off a few carols in your head. As the song, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” reminds us, “… makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice …” is good advice and not just for Santa and his elves!

Tags: Arvest Rewards, Budgeting, Cash Management, Credit Cards, Financial Education, Gift Cards
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