Staying On a Holiday Budget During a Pandemic

What a year!  After more than half a year of living in a pandemic, it is clearly going to be a holiday season like no other.  Most people have seen a significant change in their financial situation.  With the holiday season here, the strain on the budget is stressful.  Taking a few simple steps can help make sure you stay on budget this year.  Don’t start the new year with debt that will take you the entire new year to pay off.

Figure out your budget

Every budget starts by calculating what you have to spend.  Determine how much money you have for gifts this holiday season.  Determine the amount you will be spending and do not go over that amount.  Using a budgeting app or spreadsheet might be helpful.  Another useful tip is to withdraw cash for your holiday purchases.  When it is gone, you are done spending!  Be sure to keep your receipts as you go.  Consider using a separate savings or checking account that is designated for your holiday spending.  Online and mobile banking tools make this so easy from the comfort of your own home!

Make a List and Check it Twice

Planning ahead when shopping this holiday season will make all the difference.  Start with a list of everyone you plan to shop for, regardless of how small or large the gift is.  As you make your list, jot down ideas you have for their gift.  This would be a good time to gather any wish lists from family members.  Once you make your list, stick to it!  Don’t forget to add things like shipping, wrapping paper, and stamps to your list.  These are hidden costs that people often forget to include in their budget.  

Know Your Limits – Priceless Gifts Go a Long Way

It is crucial to be honest with yourself if your finances don’t allow you to buy everyone on your list a gift.    There are plenty of other ways to show people that you care!  Spend time with them, socially distanced with masks on, is one way.  Making a tray of cookies and treats or creating a craft or building something to share with someone can be just as meaningful.  Pull out your crafty or maker skills.  Handmade gifts show that you are willing to give one of the most expensive things we have to offer, our time.  Even something as simple as a nice picture frame will go a long way this season.  Since we can’t spend time together the way we are used to, a picture or handmade item will mean so much.  Getting creative with your gifts helps you spread holiday cheer without going over budget and accidentally receiving overdraft fees, which ultimately hurts your credit in the future.

Cut Out The Things That Are Not Necessary

One easy way to save during the holiday season is to cut out the things you don’t need in your day to day life.  Stop buying coffee, eating out, and streaming extra channels.  Cutting out these simple things that we enjoy but do not need, can add up and save you some money.  This money you saved is money you can use towards your holiday shopping.

Be Cautious of Sales

Often sales cost people more, not less.  Always double check what you are paying.  There is such a thing as too good to be true.  Sales are effective because they get people to buy things that they otherwise wouldn’t buy.  Make sure you are buying something on your list and within your budget before you make the purchase!  A lot of people will be doing their shopping online this season.  An advantage of this is the ability to quickly compare prices with competitors.  Take the time to comparison shop and make sure you are getting the best available price.

Shop Local

This year, more than ever, it is important to support local businesses.  The pandemic has created financial hardships for so many local businesses.  Often these small businesses are great places to shop for a unique and personalized gift.  Look and see if your favorite local shop offers online shopping.

Don’t Wait to Start Saving For Next Year

Start saving in January 2021 for next year’s holiday season.  Put aside money each month for the entire year and you will have so much less stress during the holiday season.  Look at your budget to see what you spend this year and then divide that number by 12.  That is how much you need to set aside each month in order to cover your spending for next year.  Jarrettsville Federal’s Christmas Clubs make saving easy.  Make weekly deposits and watch your holiday budget grow.  Even though we are currently six weeks into the 2021 clubs, there is always time to catch up or simply begin a little later. You get out of it what you put in and there is no penalty for starting late or not completing a goal.  Contact us at 410-692-5151 or visit our website at for more information.

Budgeting and saving are not easy.  Having the right mindset, and staying in your budget, can lead to the best holiday season ever.  After all, the holidays are about spending time with your loved ones, not about building debt. It has been a challenging year, but there is still so much to be thankful for.   At Jarrettsville Federal Community Bank, we want you to enjoy a safe holiday season filled with happiness and cheer.