from Courtney

The Christmas season hits the calendar at the same time every year, yet always seems to sneak up on us in regards to gift buying and other holiday giving. What often results is extra spending and credit bills that land in our mailbox in January.

This year, you can treat yourself to less financial stress by taking a few steps to prepare for the holiday season months in advance.

1. Make a budget and decide what you’ll need to contribute each month to reach that. Don’t forget to consider gifts for family members and friends, extra expenditures for holiday parties, annual traditions like sending out Christmas cards, and tips for newspaper deliverers, hairdressers, post office workers, and any other service-people that you want to give to at the holiday season. Use holiday planning printables to keep your budget in check, or download an app on your phone, such as Juicy Christmas or Holiday Gift List, to help you track holiday spending.

2. Start a savings account at your bank specifically for Christmas savings. Decide how much you want to save, determine how much you need to save each month… then get at it.  This allows you to intentionally set aside the money that you budgeted, and then you can also begin to make gift purchases from this account as it grows and the holidays get closer.

INB offers an account that’s ideal for Christmas savings called, “You Name It Savings.”

3. Round up and save the change. Many banks have a program that will round up your purchases and automatically deposit the change into a different savings account. If you need a little help with setting money aside, this can be a great option to work toward your savings goal.  INB’s program is called “Pocket Change.”

4. Stretch your money further. By using rewards points earned from your debit or credit card, you can purchase gift cards to either use for shopping or to directly gift to a loved one, without spending anything out of pocket.

5. Celebrate stress-free… You just planned and saved to be able to have the Christmas you want without the credit card debt that you don’t want! Now you can spend the holidays with your family focused on joy and peace instead of financial stress.