12 money tips to beat holiday stress
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Grow, save, and boss your way to less financial stress this season
It’s the fourth quarter. That’s crunch time in football, and October through December is budget-crunch time for families facing the financial pressures of the holidays.
Money pressures have a way of bringing strain to a season that is supposed to be about relationships and celebration.
Kick holiday stress to the curb this year with 12 financial tips focused on helping you grow your resources, save money, and boss your finances (instead of the other way around).
Grow your resources
Need some extra dough for gifts and travel?
Here are four ideas for raising some extra holiday cash flow.
Tip 1: Skip a Pay*
What if your loan payment could go to presents this month? With Numerica’s Skip a Pay program, you can skip a qualifying loan payment and use that cash to bolster your holiday budget.
What’s even better, the $30 fee you pay goes back to our community through the Numerica Charitable Fund.
Tip 2: Sell used items online
Before you accumulate more stuff, make some room — and a few bucks in the process! From Facebook Marketplace to Craigslist and beyond, there is an online market for many of your used possessions.
Popular items that sell well online:
- Pet crates
- Kids’ toys
- College textbooks
- Old gaming systems
- Home décor
Pro tip: Earn cash with side hustles like pet sitting, house sitting, or turning your car into a part-time ride-sharing or delivery vehicle.
Tip 3: Refi your ride**
What if your car payment was significantly lower each month? That’s cash in your pocket! Right now, interest rates are historically low, and applying through Numerica is a snap.
Pro tip: Interest rates are low across the board. It never hurts to inquire about a refi on any type of loan you are carrying.
Tip 4: Pay with points
Whether it’s a Numerica Visa® Platinum,** Visa® Luna,** or another credit card, chances are you’ve built up some rewards. What’s more, COVID has kept many people from cashing them in throughout the year. Depending on the program, these reward points can turn into extra cash or be used for shopping.
Plug the holiday money drain.
These four tips to help you keep expenses down and set money aside.
Tip 5: Negotiate presents
Shopping for gifts requires time and money. Who on your list can you celebrate with a card or plate of cookies instead? For large families and friends, negotiate reasonable limits to gift buying. Draw names. Go in with others on a present. Your friends and family may be grateful for the lightened load, too. As you’re talking, think of ways to tip the focus toward shared experiences, which are a gift in themselves.
Tip 6: Use your phone
Make that smart phone smarter by price checking your purchases before checking out. Is there another store where you could save money on the same thing? Be sure you have the best deal before you buy.
Pro tip: Checking online reviews may save you from a purchase you will regret.
Tip 7: Round up to Savings
It’s hard to set aside money during a season of spending. Beat this by signing up for Round Up to Savings with the Numerica debit card. This program rounds up every transaction and transfers accumulated balances into your savings account. (Example: A $5.43 coffee purchase rounds up to $6, with $0.57 automatically transferred to your savings account.)
Pro tip: Simple, round numbers are easy to track in your shopping budget.
Tip 8: Put yourself on the shelf
Think you’ve been awfully good this year? Just don’t overdo it. The National Retail Federation reported that in 2019, consumers spent an average of $1,048 for holiday gifts, food, and decorations — including $162 directly for themselves. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to an occasional splurge. But if Santa spent 15% of his budget on himself, Mrs. Claus might be able to help him spot a few ideas for savings.
Boss your finances
Being a money boss requires budgets and a backbone.
Here are four ways to tell your money what’s what.
Tip 9: Make a list
The fast track to holiday stress is paved with disorganization and surprise. You will do better with your shopping as well as your budgeting when you list every person you plan to buy for — before you spend your first dollar.
Pro tip: Plan for surprises by adding a TBD “John and Jane Doe” to your list.
Tip 10: Deal with debt
Before finalizing your holiday budget, know your current financial situation. This may be the year to deal with debt, spend less, and get back on track:
- Don’t add new debt.
- Make your minimum payment or more each month.
- Reach out to creditors when you are in trouble.
Holiday money stress turns into year-round money stress when you don’t address debt.
Tip 11: Commit to a budget
Got your list? Know your financial situation? The next step is to determine the dollar amount you can afford to budget for the season — and stick to it. Divide that money among your list, track your spending, and refuse to compromise.
Pro tip: If you’ve had trouble sticking to a budget in the past, set up a “digital envelope” — an account just for holiday spending. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
Tip 12: Know your reason for the season
Sure, shopping is a part of the holidays. So is family. So are relationships. So are many deeply held traditions, whether religious or otherwise.
Prioritize your priorities. Set aside funds for that nonprofit you love, meaningful hours for loved ones, and space for reflection and rejuvenation. Don’t let financial pressures rob you of the things most important to you. With a little planning and discipline, you can grow, save, and boss your way to beating holiday stress.
**All loans subject to approval