5 Tips to Lower Financial Stress During the Holidays

How much will you spend over the holidays? Probably more than you think. According to an annual survey by national accounting firm Deloitte, Americans spend an average of $507 on gifts during the season. And when holiday parties and other related expenses are taken into account, the survey says that number can top $1,455.

No one enjoys starting off the new year under a pile of debt. With Origin Bank’s simple tips, you can enjoy the holiday season while maintaining good financial health and reducing financial stress.

1. Make a list and stick to it. Last-minute and unplanned gift buying are two of the most common ways to overspend. When it comes to planning, you don’t need a complicated system – just list all the people you need to buy gifts for and how much you’d like to spend on each. Total it up and compare it to your overall budget. If the sum still feels excessive, consider making your own presents. It may not work for everyone on your list, but photos, baked goodies or handmade crafts are meaningful yet inexpensive gestures.

2. Keep track of your spending. From gift shopping to outings, it’s easy to lose track of your spending in the midst of holiday festivities. Avoid waking up to financial shocks in the new year by paying close attention to how money flows in and out throughout the season. Are you spending more than expected on hot chocolate and cookies at the ice skating rink? Are travel expenses snowballing? Keep an eye on these trends and adjust your holiday budget accordingly to avoid the wrong kind of surprises. Origin Bank offers an array of online services that make it easy to stay on top of account totals, prevent overdrafts and make sure bills are paid on time.

3. Spend smarter this year. Studies show that prices during big, one-day events like Black Friday typically aren’t much better than regular holiday sales. Smart shoppers look for deals every day, clipping coupons in the newspaper and searching for promo codes online. If you come across an unexpectedly perfect gift you hadn’t planned for, a quick search on your smartphone might determine whether the price is fair or if there’s a better deal to be found somewhere else.

4. Take into account parties and food costs. We don’t always think of parties as holiday spending, but invitations, decorations, spirits, snacks and meals add up quickly, and they definitely impact your budget. Make a separate list of parties you expect to attend and what you’ll be asked to contribute so you can factor it into your budget. If you’re hosting, decide on a menu as soon as possible. This leaves more time to compare deals at different grocery stores and scan newspapers and websites for coupons.

5. Save along the way. Saving for the holidays is a lot easier than you think and makes a huge difference in reducing holiday stress. Putting away even a little cash each week or month adds up by the end of the year, helping you avoid credit card overspending. If you need a dedicated, secure place to set aside holiday funds, Origin Bank can help with a Simple Savings account, which requires no minimum deposit to open.

Whether you work a shift at your local soup kitchen or donate to your favorite local charity, giving back to the community is a time-honored way to spread holiday cheer – to yourself and others. For more ideas on holiday planning and how to lower financial stress, contact the Origin team. We’re ready to help.