December 16, 2017 Beth Ann Tabak See all posts in Budgeting See all posts in Money-Saving Tips Money-saving tips for the holidays Let’s face it, the Holiday Season can make it very tempting to overspend. Here are a few tips on how to avoid that, and how to make it debt-free into your New Year. Set a budget While setting a budget might seem like a gargantuan task, it’s really pretty easy when you take it bit by bit. First, establish who is on your gift shopping list and what you want to purchase for them, what decorations you need to buy, and what meals you might cook, and then set a realistic dollar amount to each of those items. Keep in mind, too, that it’s ok to budget for fun. The holiday season is filled with parties, seasonal entertainment and travel, so think about what that means for your budget. Make sure to work in line items for hostess gifts, tickets to holiday concerts and even ride-sharing services to make sure you arrive safely to your events. And, don’t worry, there are tools that you can use to help you set your budget. Check out KOFE’s (Knowledge of Financial Education) Holiday Survival Guide, which includes a budget spreadsheet for gifts, tips and other holiday needs. 7 17 has partnered with KOFE to provide free financial education tools to help support Members’ long-term financial health. Stick to that budget Setting the budget is the easy part. Sticking to it can be another story. Luckily, account alerts and online tools can help you stay on track. For example, alerts created directly through 7 17’s NetWorth24 Online Banking, can be sent via text, email or both to notify you of when withdrawals are made, when your balance reaches a certain level, and more, so that you know where you stand in your spending. Plus, you can watch your accounts and spending on the go through our Mobile Banking App. If you are using your 7 17 Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card or 7 17 Visa Rewards Debit Card, be sure to set up Visa Purchase Alerts. These near real-time notifications in the form of a text, email, or both can help you keep an eye on your own spending while monitoring for fraud, which can be higher at this time of year. Of course, there’s also nothing like a good, old-fashioned shopping list to keep you on task, too. If you are forgoing online shopping and heading out into the world, have a plan of attack and a shopping list to watch. This will help you stick to your budget and avoid those extra items that tempt you at the register. Plus, who doesn’t love crossing things off a list? Use cash-back or rewards cards If you plan to pay off your credit card during the grace period to avoid interest, then this is a great time to use cash-back or rewards cards. There are a lot of cards out there that offer great perks, including 7 17’s Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card. It offers the ScoreCard Rewards program, which gives you one ScoreCard point for every dollar spent. ScoreCard points are redeemable toward 1% cash back, gift cards, travel discounts and brand-name merchandise. If you’d rather stick to spending cash, 7 17’s Visa® Debit Rewards Card also offers great perks through ScoreCard, and lets you earn one point for every $2 spent that you can redeem toward gift cards, travel discounts and brand-name merchandise. Start early While it might sound silly just weeks away from the holidays, it’s a good tip for next year. Take a minute to plot out who and what you will need to shop for, the amounts that you’ll need to cover those costs and start saving. Look into items such as a Christmas Club savings account to help you put money away easily, and accrue some interest on your hard-earned dollars.