Managing finances this gift-giving season


by New Day Producers

Posted on December 28, 2012 at 12:57 PM

It’s called the most wonderful time of the year, beautiful lights, festive decorations, time with family. Sometimes those same things can be the triggers for stress and financial overload. Suzanne Klenk, from Washington State Employees Credit Union, helps us with planning tips so we don’t go into debt this holiday season!

For more information about Washington State Employees Credit Union, please click HERE.

If you have a question for Suzanne or would like more information about how to host a FREE financial workshop for your business or organization, email her:

Here's a look at three of the topics Suzanne discussed on today's show, plus two others to help people plan holiday parties and travel that won't break the budget.

First step is to create a holiday budget

Creating a realistic spending plan for your holidays is important.  There are so many expenses other than gifts!  Parties, travel, specialty foods for big meals, impulse purchases, etc…  It is important to set an amount you can comfortably spend without over using your credit cards.  Debt is a huge burden and many of us get in over our heads this time of the year.

Let’s begin with the gifts.  How can you make sure to do go overboard?

Make your list, and check it twice!  Not only who you plan to buy for, but what you plan to purchase for them.  Set a dollar limit and check out the ads to compare prices.  Use the internet to find good prices also.   This will help you cut your shopping trip down a bit and may help avoid impulse spending.

Gifts can be so expensive, especially if you have been unemployed or have been struggling this past year.  What should those people do?

There are plenty of ways to share the warmth and joy of the holiday season without spending a bunch of money.  Love people with your creativity! 

  • Bake your signature cookie!  I argue every year with my sister and cousins over my Aunt Mary’s cookie plate
  • Gift your time and a service!  Make a gift certificate for a Car Washing or House Cleaning (and then add ME to your list!)
  • If you have taken some great pictures, find inexpensive frames and give those as gifts
  • Write a song or a poem for those closest to you, share yourself

Kids are really hard to do that for.  They usually have such huge expectations and that makes it difficult.

·         Kids can be a challenge.  We want so much to give them everything.  Conversation is important.  Talk about the fact that this Christmas is going to look a little different.  This will help avoid disappointment when the XBox isn’t under the tree.   For older kids, think about passing on a family heirloom or a personal treasure that would be meaningful to both of you.

Holiday Parties are so much fun, but they can get really expensive! How do you still enjoy without breaking the budget?

That is the core of the season is spending that time with family and friends.  So, if you are hosting:

  • Make it a potluck and have people swap recipes
  • Consider appetizers and desserts instead of a full meal
  • If you are going to a party and need an exchange gift, consider sharing a small book of your favorite recipes.

And the costliest holiday expense, Travel! 

Travel is costly, especially if you are making reservations late in the game.  But there are deals to be had:

  • Book early and use online search engines
  • Be Flexible with your travel dates and times

Whew!  And then it’ s all over in a flash!

Yes, and time to begin thinking about planning better for next year.  WSECU, as well as other financial institutions, have the ability to let you set up a “Holiday” savings account.  Begin setting aside money in this account each month and by the time the lights begin to twinkle again, you will have a good start on avoiding the financial stress that can put a damper on all the good stuff!