The holiday season can bring joy, happiness and gifts, but they can also bring short and long-term problems without a financial plan.
“Holidays can be stressful financially if there isn’t a budget in place,” said Holly Newton, the Airman and Family Readiness Center personal finance readiness manager here.
Newton suggested setting up a dedicated savings account. “Put a little money from each paycheck into the account,” she said. “When the holidays come around, there will be money available to spend on gifts. A little cash goes a long way.”
She recommended making a list of gift recipients, budget for each of them and stick to it.
Senior Master Sgt. Gloria Olivas, 96th Test Wing superintendent of Wing Staff Agencies, has had a Christmas account set up since she was a technical sergeant, to ensure a happy holiday season for her family.
“I put a certain amount into the account every month,” said the single mother of two. “I don’t touch it until October. By budgeting that way, I don’t stress about how to make Christmas happen for my kids.”
Olivas encourages her Airmen to limit their gift buying to four per child.
“I tell them to use this saying: ‘One thing they want, one thing they need, one thing they wear and one thing they read, ’” she said. “You don’t have to go all out to have a great Christmas.”
Newton said she’s seen cases where deployed service members overspend during the holidays, because they physically can’t be with family and friends.
“Some people go way beyond their budget to make up for not being at home,” she said. “No one should misuse a credit card or put themselves into debt because of a guilty conscience. Generosity is great, but not at the risk of financial problems.”
Giving a homemade gift can be more precious than a store bought present, Newton said.
“A personalized gift often has a deeper meaning to a friend or a family member,” she said. “It can be something small that means a lot to someone.”
Newton encouraged taking advantage of holiday sales.
“Check out the newspapers for sales and coupons, do online searches and download savings applications to your phone to find those great deals. Comparison shopping is also a great avenue to save on gift buying.”
The A&FRC stands ready to help eligible patrons set up a budget and offer financial assistance for the holidays and year-round, she said.