By Rick Musselman, Belvoir EagleDecember 5, 2019
While the holidays may be a joyous time for many, sometimes the season can bring along financial stressors that can be overwhelming. From holiday travel, gift shopping, to meal preparations and even hosting holiday festivities, this time of year can leave people financially overextended and emotionally exhausted.
Fortunately, Belvoir's Financial Readiness Program offers tips to stay within our budgets and avoid piling on high interest rate balances on credit cards.
"Try to stay away from credit card spending, using emergency funds, and taking out loans to purchase gifts, which can cause additional stress long after the holiday season is over," said Taneshia Gray, Army Community Service. "Set a practical limit for holiday purchases to include miscellaneous expenses. Plan for your 'needs' and not your 'wants.'"
Gray said it's also a good idea to put a little money aside before the "spending season" begins and keep an eye out for deals earlier in the year.
"Establish a special savings account now to prepare for holiday expenses next year and purchase holiday gifts throughout the year during major sale events."
Get creative, keep perspective
"If you're creative and specialize in certain crafts, consider making holiday gifts yourself," Gray said. "And, remind yourself that the holidays are not about gift giving, but spending time with loved ones. If you usually host holiday parties, maybe this year, consider attending one instead. Another option--instead of buying gifts for everyone--is to consider playing Secret Santa with friends and family to decrease the amount of gifts you would normally have to buy. Also, avoid buying gift cards as gifts. Research indicates that people spend more with them, because gift cards are associated with a dollar amount."
ACS here for you
"Fort Belvoir Army Community Service has a wealth of resources and programs to help military families this time of year," Gray said. "Such programs include the Financial Readiness Program, Employment Readiness Program, and Family Advocacy Program. Come over and sit with a personal financial counselor to get a handle on your current financial situation and master budgeting for, not only just the holidays, but future finances, as well. Work with the financial counselor to develop a spending plan for the holiday season, to ensure you don't accumulate more debt."
The Fort Belvoir Financial Readiness Program is a resource for information on money matters; financial topics like military pay, checkbook and debit card management; financial responsibility; credit reporting; debt elimination strategies; saving, investing and budgeting.
For information about the FRP, call 571-231-7025.