Savvy savings during holiday season

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- It's nearing the end of October, and when you go into any store - grocery store, department store, discount store - what do you see? A mix of Halloween, Thanksgiving and even December holiday displays!

It feels like the holiday displays and decorations come out earlier and earlier each year. Stores almost seem to go from back-to-school displays in August directly to the holidays! While most of us don't want to think about the holidays this early, it's a good reminder that we should be planning and saving if we plan to purchase gifts or go home for the holidays.

If you want to be practical and not overspend this holiday season, here are some questions you should ask yourself:
  • Do I want to travel this holiday season?
  • How much will traveling cost? (airfare, hotel, rental car, gas, food)
  • Can I afford to go take a trip, or do I have other plans that might make me want to save my leave and money for another time?
  • Who do I want to buy gifts for?
  • How much do I normally spend? Do I want to set a spending limit?
  • How much will postage cost me to send gifts to family and friends?

For those of you who are away from home for the first time, these might be tough questions. If you have family members who are elderly or ill, the question of whether to visit can be a difficult decision to make. No matter if this is your first holiday away from home, or your 15th, these are some of the questions you should be asking yourself now. Writing it out is an excellent way to plan for holiday expenses. Have a plan!

I'd like to talk a little bit about priorities and expectations. When thinking about the holiday season, you should consider why you want to give gifts or travel home, and whether you can afford it. Gift-giving has different significance in different families. For some, it's tradition but for others, just getting together or hearing from loved ones is more important than material gifts. Some other options are sending home-made gifts, pictures or writing letters. Sometimes the best gift is simply a phone call or call on Skype.

I'd like to challenge you to consider whether spending money on gifts and travel this season is the right thing for your financial situation. What is important to you? What are your financial goals? What is the best way to let your family know you love them? What is going to keep you on track to financial wellness? If you take these questions into consideration, you will have a less stressful holiday season, and feel confident that you are using your money based on your/your family's priorities and needs!

For more information, visit the Airman and Family Readiness Center in building 145 or at www.familysupportgoodfellow.org for budgeting tools or call (325) 654-3893 to make an appointment with a financial counselor.

Happy Holidays!