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Planning for the Holidays

The holidays can seem daunting, even when they’re months away. All the hustle and bustle when the days are short and energy low—it’s enough to drive anyone to the eggnog. But it doesn’t have to be a stressful time. With the right amount of planning and a sound strategy for saving money, you can make the holidays as holly jolly as it gets. It pays dividends to plan for the future, now—here’s how to prep.




Plan Ahead to Keep the Budget From Busting Like Santa's Belt 

Be like jolly old Saint Nick—make your list and check it twice. And be sure to do it well in advance! Once you have your list in hand, start to brainstorm gift ideas for everyone on it. That’s a great way to head off stress well in advance, and it also lets you set out a tentative budget ahead of time.

Once you have a ballpark budget done up, you can start to save early. Don’t let the holidays wallop your wallet; instead, put some extra pennies aside over the course of the year, so you’re ready to spend come December.

The trick in this tip:

Set aside a set percentage each month in a separate account just for your gifts for the holidays. Even $10 to $25 per check can make those holiday dollars pile up when you're ready to hit the malls. 



Hit the Deal Days, the Sales, and the Extra Coupons or Member Rewards

Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be a great way to score deals on big purchases if you plan ahead and know how much you’d expect to pay full price. But you want to be sure the deals are as good as they want you to think. Once you’ve done the cost breakdown, shop away to save—even from the comfort of your own home. Make sure if you have compounding coupons or discount codes, that you use them before expiration. Also, if you happen to belong to a rewards club for a particular retailer, use those benefits in combination with the purchase. 

You can also keep your eyes peeled for little items along the way, that you know your whole crew will love. This is one of the easiest ways to score sweet stocking stuffers for the entire family. Wool socks? Check. Home decor? Got it! DVDs and new headphones? Done!

The trick in this tip:

Be less specific in the brand or color of what you are looking for, and be open to options that meet the wishlist in combination with the deal. Of course, if you're looking for wireless Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones, you can't quite substitute them for the freebie earbuds from an airplane. But keep in mind that competition from Amazon or a warehouse store like Costco is what drives the deals at other places like Best Buy or Walmart



Ship Early (Especially When Free Shipping is Involved)

Planning ahead is vital for making sure that everything you order online (from the comfort of your couch) arrives on time. The good news is, you already have your shopping list in hand, and you're not rushing around at the last minute. But be sure to keep your eye out for holiday shipping notices when you should expect longer delivery times. 

When everything is on its way, keep an eye on your tracking numbers to make sure nothing gets lost in transit. If you're the one sending packages out, UPS has their holiday shipping deadlines easily laid out, so you know exactly when you have to get everything signed and sealed to send. 

The trick in this tip:

Don't let other people's last-minute madness become yours. Whatever shipping service you use, expect lines, and extra time. If you are going home for the holidays, have your online purchases shipped there directly, and wrap them once you arrive. Just make sure to let Dad know not to open the box with your name on it, or he may see that new Star Wars bathrobe you want to surprise him with on the day.



When Secret Santa is a Little Too Much for the Office: Gift in Bulk

Sometimes workplace gifts can get a little intense (Think Jim Halpert and his teapot for Pam on the Office). In an ideal world, everyone in your life would get a heartfelt gift tailored just for them. But, what about the woman who sits three cubes away from you at work? You know, the one who you've talked to once. Just like when you went on vacation and brought back chocolates or coffee for everyone to share, it lets everyone know you appreciate them without having to be too particular. 

It's great to show the people around you that you've thought of them, but you don't want to break the bank, and time is a limited resource at this time of year. That's where bulk gifting comes in. Maybe you make a big batch of your favorite cookies and wrap them up individually, or get a flat of scented candles and go for a cozy holiday feel. If you're feeling spendy, drop everyone a Starbucks gift card (or whatever local brew house hits the spot).

The trick in this tip:

Take care of your small gifting all at once to save time and money and make it friendly and seasonal, over personal and particular. Let people know they are appreciated without complications or unintended messages.


Here at Rocky Mountain Credit Union, we are here to help you get the best bang for your buck and help you put your best foot forward in your finances. For more money-saving tips, check out a variety of articles from the RMCU blog.

Non RMCU links are being provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by Rocky Mountain Credit Union of any of the products, services or opinions of the corporation or organization or individual. RMCU bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external sites.

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