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MCCU Advice: 10 tips to keep your holiday spending on a budget

Yep, it’s official. It is that time of year when on the radio you hear, “Christmas city… Wonderful city… All dressed up in snow and mistletoe…”

Not only do you now have Merv Griffin’s “Christmas City of the North” song stuck in your head, but you are now surrounded by holiday décor, advertisements and deals.

So how does one stay on top of their holiday spending? By sticking to our 10 holiday shopping tips.

Tip 1: Make a list
Write down everyone you plan to give gifts to. Then put a dollar figure next to each name for the amount of money you are willing to spend on a gift. Setting price limits will help keep your holiday budget on track.

Tip 2: Brainstorm ideas
Now that you have your list and price limit for each person, brainstorm possible gift ideas. Having a gift idea in mind, will keep you on track when searching for the best deal.

Tip 3: Start saving
The best time to start saving is now, and avoid holiday debt. Automatic transfer is a great tool to help you save without thinking about it. You simply decide the amount of money and frequency to automatically transfer funds from your checking account to your savings account.
Another easy way to help save this holiday, is with MCCU’s Skip-a-Pay loan promotion. Click here for details.

Tip 4: Shop early
One of the easiest ways to overspend during the holidays, is to wait until the last minute and buy all of your gifts in a rush. By starting early, you can research weekly deals getting the best price for items on your list.

Tip 5: Shop local
What better way to boost your local economy, save the environment, help create jobs and strengthen your community, than to buy local. Shopping local, can often times serve up an array of exclusive finds and great deals.

Tip 6: Split it
Follow the divide-and-conquer rule by shopping with a family member or friend. If there are multiple purchase discounts, like a two-for-one special, go together and split the savings, thus taking advantage of the offer.

Tip 7: Review your spending
Spend wisely by reviewing your account statements, paying your bills regularly and using online banking or a mobile banking app to easily monitor your accounts. Text banking is another efficient way to stay on top of your spending by getting text notifications for each transaction or even your account balance at the end of each day.

Tip 8: Use Debit instead of Credit
A debit card automatically forces you to spend only what you have helping to keep you on budget, and allows you to avoid paying interest. If you are one to use credit for most of your purchases, be sure to stick to your budgeted list, and use a card earning you rewards in return.To avoid credit card debt especially during the holidays, stick to our 7 smart ways to avoid credit card debt.

Tip 9: Make your gifts
Handmade presents are a great way to save money while making something memorable and meaningful. Pinterest can be a great tool for researching DIY projects for the perfect holiday gift.

Tip 10: Gift Wrap

So you budgeted for your holiday gifts, but did you budget for the wrapping? That is one expense during the holiday, we always forget about. Therefore, instead of spending money on holiday gift wrap, consider re-using holiday gift bags, or make your own creative gift wrap using recyclable material like newspaper, grocery bags, etc. Some stores even offer free gift-wrapping which is a service to definitely take advantage of.

So ’tis the season of holiday shopping.

May you shop merrily, spend wisely, and stay on top of your holiday spending by remembering our 10 holiday shopping tips.