How to Gift Shop and Stay Debt Free This Holiday Season

“Financially Fit” is a column published by RCB Bank to help you gain knowledge on all things financial. Fitness guides – RCB Bank professionals in the field – offer ideas to help you strengthen your money sense, customize savings training, and provide qu

By: RCB Bank | Category: Financial Services | Issue: November 2015

Emily Nixon said making homemade blankets for gifts easily saved her more than $200 last year.

Emily Nixon said making homemade blankets for gifts easily saved her more than $200 last year.

It’s 6 a.m. on Friday and you’re storming through a department store to grab the best bargains of the season. The entire store is on sale, and you can’t pass up these amazing deals! Or, should you?
You can save money shopping discounts, but when it comes to holiday shopping, consider this: Do you or the person you’re shopping for really need it? Is it worth assuming that extra debt?
Like any other person, I like giving gifts, but not to the extent that I have to take out a loan to cover the expenses or rack up credit card debt I may never escape.
This year, let’s agree to have our cake and eat it too. Let’s make a shopping plan. Here are some tips on purchasing gifts, staying money-wise and avoiding debt.
Set a budget. How much money can you spend (debt-free) on gifts? Make a list of every person you plan to give a gift to. Set a dollar amount for each person. Add up the total and compare it to your spending limit. Adjust until you are within budget.
Make saving for holidays a year-round goal. Does your employer have a holiday savings plan? This is where you elect to have a certain dollar amount taken out of your paycheck monthly. Around November, your employer will deposit your savings into your account. If your company doesn’t have a holiday program, set up a personal savings account with a monthly auto-deposit.
Make a list, check it twice. In order to stay debt-free, you must stick to your budget. If you see the perfect gift and it is $10 more than you budgeted, you have to either say no or adjust someone else’s gift amount. There is a third option. Get creative.
• Make homemade gifts. An endless list of ideas and tutorials can be found on the Internet (we’re looking at you, Pinterest).
• Set up a gift exchange with friends or family. Everyone brings one gift and everyone leaves with a gift. Fun and inexpensive.
• Share a skill. Teach grandma how to use social media or teach your niece how to bake.
• Give your time. Spend time with your family or visit a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. This cost-free gift may actually be more important than anything you could buy. If you can’t visit in person, a personal handwritten letter means more than an e-mail or text ever will.
• Volunteer. Get your friends or family together and volunteer at a local shelter or pull your resources together to give to a charity. A gift of your time and energy is often more appreciated than just giving materially.
The holidays are meant for celebration. It’s not a time to stress over buying the right gift and certainly not a time to worry about your finances.
Have a wonderful, stress-free holiday season! We are happy to answer any questions you might have about savings accounts, even if you are not an RCB Bank customer. Call us at 855-BANK-RCB or visit your local RCB Bank location.
Opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of Kyle Head and meant for generic illustration purposes only. RCB Bank is an Equal Housing Lender. Member FDIC.

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