By: Value News | Category: Financial Services | Issue: November 2013
Rachel Stephens of Owasso suggests using the benefits of your bank to plan for holiday spending, like using a prepaid VISA card to keep you on budget.
Gift for mom and dad. Check. Presents for the girls. Check. Gift for sweetie. Check. Now, what to buy for my BFF and other closest friends?
Ah, the holidays, a time when we are all too often tempted to toss out our budgets and splurge on friends and family. It’s the season of giving, and besides, I enjoy giving gifts. So, is it possible to stay on budget without compromising my gift giving?
“Yes, it is,” said Rachel Stephens, RCB Bank employee who knows a thing or two about spending wisely. “I live on a tight budget, but that doesn’t mean I skip the gifts during the holidays. I simply plan for it.” Stephens shares some of her personal money planning practices:
Plan ahead. “I believe a person needs to budget ahead of a holiday shopping trip, so they don’t get caught up in the pressure to buy, buy, buy and then have to figure out how to climb out of the hole they fall in,” Stephens said. “Me personally, I use my company’s Christmas deduction plan. I choose how much money to have taken out of my check each month and RCB Bank withholds it for me until the holiday season. It’s the ultimate plan; does the work for me.”
If your company doesn’t offer a similar program, use the benefits of your bank. Ask them what more they can offer beyond traditional banking. “For instance, one of my customers has several accounts with us and has access to all of them but one through her online banking,” Stephens said. “I asked her if she wanted to add it; she said no. She was putting money in, yet didn’t want to see it, like a silent savings.
“Your bank may also offer prepaid VISA cards*, said Stephens. “Set your budget, put only that amount on the card and use it for holiday shopping.”
How else can you use your bank’s services to plan ahead?
Price shop. “This is easiest to do online,” Stephens said. “I comparison shop, then plan my gifts. My priority is my kids first, then family and friends. I shop more online than in the past to find unique items instead of always going the same old stores, trying to come up with something new and different. I look for free shipping and online specials that can help save me money. Delivery to my doorstep is a bonus.”
Leave emotion out. “Life is about making smart choices, not emotional choices,” said Stephens. “Woman can easily get fixated on things. We get giddy when we see something we really want and then we’ve got to have it. I say sleep on it, for a week. By then the emotion is gone. If you still want it, wait for store specials. Take the spontaneity out, so rather than regret, you can really enjoy it better.”
Think outside the spending box. “I like to personalize gifts, so often times I put a unique piece together, like a mosaic frame,” Stephens said. “Saves me money and I create a more meaningful gift.”
To Stephens gift giving isn’t about spending money; it’s about spending time and creating memories. “It takes effort to make a gift but it’s worth it,” she said. “And, if I’m going to give a gift card, say to a pottery shop or winery, I’d rather include myself in the trip, so memories are made. It adds much more value to the gift.”
With a little planning and creativity, you too can take the pressure off holiday spending this year.
*Be sure to ask your bank about any fees or hidden charges that may be associated with a prepaid VISA card.
For more information, contact
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