Monday, January 15: All branches closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

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Monday, January 15: All branches closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

 Monday, January 15: All branches closed in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

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The Gift of Holiday Budgeting

Holiday Budgeting

When it comes to the holidays, it can be easy to ignore the planning and budgeting aspect of the giving season. By creating and maintaining a holiday spending budget, shortening your store-bought gift list and using smart shopping tips and tricks, you can make it through the season in the green.

Create a holiday budget

Develop a realistic budget of what you can spend on gifts, activities and parties this winter. Create budget categories that may include travel, entertainment, gifts or donations. Allocate a certain amount of money into each category that will not overextend your yearly budget or what you think you will be able to pay off on your credit card in a reasonable amount of time without paying high amounts of interest. You may consider lowering the amount of money you allocate to regular items in your monthly budget, such as taking fewer trips to coffee shop or suspending a subscription service you can go without.

Find creative ways to give gifts

Make a list of friends and family you would like to give gifts to. Compare this with the budget you have set, keeping in mind that not all gifts need to be store-bought. If you are reaching your spending limit or want to do something special to show someone you care, consider making a homemade gift, baking a treat or spending quality time with that person.

Shop smarter

If you are going to be making gift purchases using a credit card, create a payment plan in advance. The last thing you want is to still be paying off this year’s holiday spending when next year’s holiday rolls around. Avoid paying high amounts of interest by only purchasing what you can afford to pay off in full when next month’s credit card bill comes around.

Combine smart credit card usage with a keen eye for discounts, coupons and deals. With the growth of online shopping, it is easy to compare product prices across multiple stores. Comparison-shopping will help you find the gift items you are looking for at the lowest price. The month of November is the perfect time to save money by search for deals during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Take advantage of these major sales while not overspending by keeping your gift list and budget in mind.

Extra Tips

Do you have kids? Invite them into the budgeting process. It is never too early to learn how to handle money and set limits to spending.

Encourage your group of friends to do a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange to lower costs. This way, you will only have to buy one gift, not multiple.

Keep track of your spending this year to help you better prepare your budget for next year’s holiday season. Determine if the money you spent was worth it and what you would do differently next year. Store this time- and money-saving information somewhere you will remember to look for it when the time comes around next year.

Armed with the tools to budget and spend wisely this holiday season, you can worry less about the money you have spent and focus more on the joy of spending time with those you love.

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