Cutting Down on Holiday Expenses

CONSIDER THIS: While the holidays can be a magical time for children, adults face a plethora of extra expenses. Gifts, food, decorations, the perfect outfit for that holiday party, or air fare to visit family—there’s no denying the holidays can put a dent in the wallet.

The average American spent $734 on gifts, $120 on food, $78 on decorations, and $85 on flowers and cards during the 2015 holiday season, according to AOL Mass Media.

Traveling can be another major expense during November and December. AAA reports that due to low gas prices, 41.9 million people took a road trip last Thanksgiving. Another 36.1 million journeyed by plane. According to the National Retail Federation, the average person travels 275 miles for Christmas.

Here are some tips to cut costs and save for the holidays:

Book early: If you already know what your family’s holiday travel plans are going to be, book now. Early bookings can save money.

Potluck time: Have everyone bring their favorite dish. Saves on time and money for those often-large holiday meals.

Think outside the box for gift-giving: The old adage, ‘It’s not the gift, but the thought that counts,’ really does resonate with people. Homemade cookies, cakes, or other holiday foods for family and friends will save you the trouble of shopping during the holiday rush, not to mention the cost savings. Added bonus: include the recipe.

Rewards cards: Rewards cards give you points you can use like cash on merchandise, travel, and big-ticket items like electronics and furniture.

Bargain shop: Check online sites such as and Brad’sDeals to search for the best bargains. Signing up for Amazon Prime might be worth it just for the free shipping if you do a lot of online shopping for the holidays.

Shop early: Shopping in advance of the holiday season spreads out the expense. Spending a small amount on gifts each month—for several months—is a good way to avoid putting a large chunk of debt on a credit card at one time.

Holiday Club Account: Consider enrolling in a Holiday Club account to start saving for next year’s holiday expenses. It’s basically a savings account that you stash money in all year—and have limited access to until the holiday season rolls around.

Seasonal Loan: Consider taking out a seasonal loan; which can help you from racking up large credit card debt. Many credit unions also offer special savings accounts to draw on at times, like the holidays, when money can get tight.

To learn more about credit unions or to find a credit union to join—as well as for further tips and resources—go to

About the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues: With headquarters in Ontario, CA, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues is the trade association representing the interests of more than 352 credit unions in California and Nevada, and their 10.7 million members. For more information, go to

Tina Ramos-Ingold, Media Relations Specialist
California Credit Union League

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