It’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially if you’re a retailer. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), more than 174 million Americans shopped both in-store and online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year, while the average person spent more than $250 on gifts for their loved ones during that time. The NRF estimates that total retail sales in November and December of 2017 will top $680 billion.

With figures like that, it makes one wonder how to keep spending from spiraling out of control. It’s easy to run to the mall to pick up a few gifts for your loved ones, only to get home and realize you’ve spent way beyond your means.

FSU Credit Union is here to help you take control of your holiday spending. Here are some tips on managing your budget and getting the most out of your money this holiday season.

Watch Your Credit Card Spending

Spend responsibly, and don’t accumulate too much debt buying presents you can’t afford. If you don’t already have the cash to pay for your gifts this holiday season, the last thing you’ll want is to pay off your credit card bill until next holiday season. If you’re already carrying a lot of credit card debt, give yourself the gift of no interest. FSU Credit Union is offering promotional balance transfer rates as low as 0% APR* for qualified applicants until December 29, 2017.

Plan Ahead

Maximize your budget and control your spending by setting a holiday budget. Before you start shopping for gifts, choose the total amount you feel comfortable spending. Next, make a list of what you’re buying and who you’re buying it for. When you eventually purchase your gifts, don’t exceed your budget, and don’t impulsively buy items that aren’t on the list. This will help you buy everything you want, while staying within your budget.

Think Outside the Box

When we say think outside the box, we mean it, literally. Not every gift you give needs to cost a lot and come wrapped in a big box. You don’t have to break the bank just to be thoughtful. There are plenty of alternatives that aren’t expensive. Greeting cards, photos, gift cards, homemade gifts and ornaments are just a few examples of great, yet inexpensive gifts.

Price Check, Please!

If you’re a traditionalist who can’t get enough of shopping in an actual store, know that you may be missing out if you don’t check online prices. While we always support shopping local, if you are in a chain or big box that also has online options, use a smartphone to check prices online. You may even find a discount on that same store’s website that isn’t available at that particular location.

Look for Deals Beyond Black Friday

Many holiday shoppers think that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the only times to get great deals. Actually, many merchants offer great deals throughout the entire holiday season. Think of Black Friday as the kickoff to holiday savings, but keep an eye out, as you may find some of the best deals (especially on big ticket items) in the week leading up to Christmas.

If you need help setting a budget this holiday season, stop by FSU Credit Union and ask to speak with one of our financial representatives. If you have an auto loan with us, ask about our Skip-A-Pay program, which helps you put cash into your pocket now by moving your November or December payment to the end of your loan term.

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Offer dependent upon member eligibility and creditworthiness. Not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. The special balance transfer APR offer is available 11/1/17 – 12/29/17 on balance transfers only. Balance transfer must come from another lender or financial institution to qualify and cannot exceed $5,000 or $10,000 at promotional rate, depending on your creditworthiness. The promotional APR will apply for twelve (12) months from date the balance transfer was completed. A 2.99% fee applies to balance transfers. New and existing qualifying cardholders are eligible; some exclusions apply. The APR for purchases and cash advances will be disclosed at the time of credit approval. Other restrictions may apply. Contact Florida State University Credit Union for complete promotional details.

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