Top tips for saving during the holidays
With all the expenses that the holiday season brings, it's not always easy to stay on track with your financial goals — especially if one of those goals is a down payment on a new home.
Just consider: Last year, the American Research Group reported that most Americans planned to spend an average of $929 on holiday gifts alone.Footnote1 Other expenses can also add up: holiday party attire, food and decorations; airline tickets for holiday travel — the list goes on.
If you're not prepared for it, that level of spending can throw a wrench into your efforts to put money away for a down payment. So, speaking of lists, here's ours for ideas that can help you keep saving during the holidays while keeping your spirits merry and bright.
Holiday saving survival guide
Tip #1: Make a plan. Write down every single person you plan to give a gift to — family, friends, colleagues, clients, anyone — along with a dollar amount limit next to each name. It's easier to stick to your budget if you've already set your gift-spending limits ahead of time.
Tip #2: Communicate. It may feel awkward to bring up the topic of money with friends and family, but it can help to manage expectations and avoid hurt feelings if you communicate openly about your savings goals. Suggest gift-buying alternatives such as agreed-on spending limits for everyone or a "White Elephant" exchange. You may find that many of your loved ones appreciate the opportunity to save money as well!
Tip #3: Get creative. Think about ways you can give that cost little or no money but that are still meaningful. For example, homemade baked goods can make great gifts. Not much of a cook? Don't have a lot of time? Search online for easy-to-assemble crowd-pleasers such as mason jar cookie mixes or homemade BBQ spice rubs.
Tip #4: Don't blow your budget on holiday attire. Formal holiday parties are fun, but if you're trying to save money, you may want to reconsider purchasing that new dress or suit for the occasion. Instead, explore the possibilities of renting attire or borrowing from friends — or even, dare we say it, wearing last year's outfit.
Tip #5: Trim your everyday spending budget. Look for areas in your usual spending habits where you can cut back to free up more funds for your holiday expenses. Once you've adjusted to your new seasonal habits, you may even want to carry them over into the new year and beyond to help you save even more.
Tip #6: Stay in the sales section. Whether you're shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar shop, head straight for the sale and clearance sections. Consider adopting an "if it's not on sale, it doesn't exist" approach. Keep an eye out for online coupons and search for discount promo codes that can also help you save at your favorite stores.
Tip #7: Use a savings calculator. The Bank of America Short-Term Savings Calculator can help you figure out how much to save for short-term goals including holiday expenses.
Tip #8: Try online tools to stay on track. Bank of America customers can log in to Online Banking to use the Spending and Budgeting tool, which automatically categorizes your transactions and suggests budgets based on your past spending. With the Goals tool, you can create personalized savings goals with names, pictures and target amounts. No matter what you're saving for, the Goals tool will help keep you motivated as you watch your balance grow.
Bonus tip for all seasons: Explore the Bank of America Down Payment Resource Center to search for cost savings and down payment assistance programs in your area that could help make buying a home more affordable.Footnote2
1"2016 Christmas Gift Spending Plans Top $900," American Research Group, Inc.
"5 strategies to afford the holidays while saving for a house," Forbes.com
2Down payment and/or closing cost assistance programs may not be available in your area. Down payment and/or closing cost assistance amount may be due upon sale, refinance, transfer, or repayment of the loan, or if the senior mortgage is assumed during the term of the loan. Some programs require repayment with interest, and borrowers should become fully informed prior to closing. Not all applicants will qualify. Minimum credit scores may apply. Sales price restrictions and income requirements may apply. Homebuyer education may be required. Owner-occupied properties only. Maximum loan amounts may apply.