The holiday season is a wonderful time to celebrate with friends and family; however, without proper planning, they can quickly put a strain on your finances. According to data collected by the National Retail Association, the average American plans to spend nearly $1,000 on holiday expenses. Between those must-have gifts, big holiday dinner parties, and purchasing decorations, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the moment and go over your regular budget.

Gift yourself peace of mind this holiday season. With rising costs and record high inflation this year, it’ll pay to plan ahead to avoid financial stress.

  1. Make a list and check it twice!
    Brainstorm all of the potential expenses you’ll have this season, including gifts, decorations, food, travel, parties and special events. Once you have your list in place, take a step back and establish a maximum spending allowance for yourself. Remember to give yourself wiggle room too; budget for a few unexpected items that you may need to purchase at the last minute.

  2. Consider going gift free
    It’s easy to get swept away in a holiday spending spree, but remember that the most important part of the holidays are the memories made, not the items purchased. If after reviewing your list and budget you realize that you need to make cuts, have an open and honest conversation about your budget this year with loved ones. There are other ways to show appreciation and celebrate a relationship other than exchanging gifts. Get creative and plan a holiday movie night, attend a local free festive event together or host a homemade cookie swap.

  3. Use credit card points to cover extra costs
    Now is the time to review your credit card benefits and look for opportunities to make the most of your shopping. Using your credit card points is a great way to stretch your holiday budget. Cash out your well-earned points and use them to cover the costs of gifts or other holiday expenses, and look for ways to earn bonus points as you shop.

    Don’t let the holiday’s bring down your credit card score though, learn how to maintain your score even during this period of extra spending.

  4. Utilize digital banking to keep track of your purchases
    With all the extra purchases, it can be easy to lose track of what you’ve spent-even with a budget in place. Utilize digital banking, like Camden National Bank’s mobile app, to keep track of your shopping activity, and ensure that no unauthorized purchases have been made. Cybercrime and fraud increase around the holidays, so it’s especially important to remain aware of reported charges.

    Visit our Security Center to learn how we monitor your account around the clock, and what you can do to help keep it secure.

  5. Start planning for next year now
    Create next year’s holiday budget now. Review the amount you spent this year to start saving for next year’s expenses by putting a little aside throughout the year. You can also take advantage of end of season sales on decorations and staple items you know you’ll need. You’ll be able to dedicate more time to enjoying the season with friends and family if you pick away a little at a time throughout the year.

    Pro tip: Consider opening a bank account, such as Camden National Bank’s Select Savings account, dedicated to saving for next year’s holiday budget. Planning ahead and slowly adding to this account will take the pressure off your holiday budget next year.

We want your holidays to be filled with joy so put a bow on holiday shopping without breaking the bank by following these simple budgeting tips.

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