September is here, which means fall is not far behind. Pumpkin spice foods and drinks are returning, the leaves are changing colors, and it’s cooling down outside. You know what that means right?
It’s almost time for the holiday season to start!
Whether you love when decorations start going up in stores or dread it, you can’t escape that the holidays are coming up quick and that means extra expenses are coming with it. Buying presents, traveling to see family, grabbing last minute gifts for work parties, and decorating your house to glow at night all cost money.
To help offset the holiday costs, you should start saving money now in preparation. Many people go into debt during the holidays in order to pay for everything, which puts them in an unfavorable position in January. Instead, make plans now to save up and help make this holiday season less stressful.
Make a Savings Goal
Goals are incredibly powerful, especially when it comes to saving money. It gives you something to work for and to build a plan around. Without a plan, you’ll be aimless when it comes to saving money and more likely to fail.
To pick a goal, start by looking through how much you spent last year on holiday shopping. This can give you a good general sense of your history of spending. This can include not just gifts, but going out to eat with family, buying holiday cookies, everything that isn’t a normal expense.
Once you have a good idea of what you’ve spent in the past, start building a goal for this year. Break down costs and set small goals for each person or event. For example, set a budget limit of $25 per family member and only allow yourself to spend $50 on new decorations. Then total up your small goals and you’ll have a savings goal to strive for!
Create a Holiday Savings Account
If you only keep a single savings account, it’s hard to keep track of your progress towards your holiday savings. Plus, it becomes a lot easier to let yourself dip into it for expenses that crop up.
With Pioneer, you can open multiple savings accounts as long as you have at least $25 in each account. This can be very useful for managing your savings and making sure you only use your holiday savings for holiday shopping.
Once you have a set holiday savings account, make a plan to regularly transfer money to it to reach your goal. Two great strategies for saving money: direct deposit a set amount from each paycheck or set up automatic transfers each month for a specific amount.
Put a Freeze on Non Essential Spending
Going into the next few months, it’s likely you’ll be buying quite a few non essentials. Gotta buy candy for Halloween (and maybe a few costumes,) a mountain of food for Thanksgiving, and then there are the extras for Christmas.
In an effort to save money, starting now, stop all non essential spending that aren’t part of holidays. You’ll likely still buy food for Thanksgiving and such, but identify and cut out other unnecessary costs. Don’t eat out for a few months, restrain yourself from buying new clothes, and cut back on everything else you don’t need to survive. This can help you lower costs each month leading up to the holidays, which hopefully makes gift shopping much easier.
By putting your finances on lock-down, not only can you save money, you can take this chance to really appreciate what you already have and find ways to repurpose supplies.
Save Up Those Reward Points and Use Them Wisely
Whether it's with a Pioneer credit card or from somewhere else, most credit cards have a points or rewards system that accompany it. Depending on the card, you can claim rewards like free flights, gift cards, products, and discounts to specific stores.
The holidays are a great time to redeem points you’ve earned up all year. If you have a plan already for holiday shopping, use your reward points to their fullest extent. For example, let’s say you have a store credit card with two options: redeem points for a gift card or get a coupon for 50% off. If you have a purchase where the 50% coupon could save you more than the gift card, go that route. Do your research to get the most value for your points.
If you have a Pioneer debit or credit card, you are already enrolled in our Rewards! program and accumulating points. To see how many points you’ve earned and what you can redeem them for, log in to your myPioneer account, click additional services, then PFCU VISA Rewards!
Avoid the Holiday Markups
While sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are great ways to save some money during the holidays, many stores actually raise their prices as the holiday season approaches. Prices on many popular gifts can slowly increase, such as brand name clothing, jewelry, and electronics.
If you can pull it off, the sooner you can do your holiday shopping, the better. Especially on items that are going to be very popular, you might be able to save quite a bit of money by buying it now.
Open a ChangeForward Account
Do you use your debit card a lot? A Pioneer ChangeForward account might be the perfect way for you to save money regularly. Everytime you use your debit card, we round up your purchase to the next dollar, then deposit the change into a special savings account. Use your card enough and you could have a nice little fund to help out with gift buying. You can either start saving now for this holiday season or open an account to prepare for next year.
Open a ChangeForward Account!