Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - Charge it. You only live once. Christmas only comes once a year. But it's for the kids.
We're all familiar with these lines and many others, whether it be from personal experience or watching so many we know overspend, often completely blowing their budget and creating unneeded financial stress later for both themselves and their families.
Dr. Debbi Byrd, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay's Chaplains Religious Enrichment and Development Office (CREDO) facilitator, has many tips for protecting your paycheck during the holiday season because, especially this time of year, "Keep What You've Earned," can have more than one meaning.
Byrd recommends that you ask yourself the following questions before spending:
1. Who do I NEED to buy gifts for? Name specific people.
2. Who do I WANT to buy gifts for? Again, be very specific.
3. What other money do I need for the holidays? (i.e. decorations, cards, postage, meals, travel, calls home)
After you've thought about those three, you can take the following steps to ensure your holiday spending stays on track.
1. Write out your budget. How much for each person/item.
2. Stick to your budget.
3. Use cash (not credit) whenever possible.
4. Shop sales.
5. Use coupons (good to know fact: the Navy Exchange price matches, including Amazon, if it is the EXACT same item)
6. Shop locally (i.e. arts/crafts fairs, Facebook posts, friends)
7. Celebrate here (for example, share a meal) with friends/family if you can't afford to go home.
8. Draw names (especially for adults) and get a gift for that one person.
9. Limit self-gifting (buying something for yourself while you're shopping for others, for example, buying a shirt for your sister and liking it so much that you buy one for yourself too)
10. Track your spending so that you can STICK TO YOUR BUDGET.
"I hope that some of these tips will help you keep your budget and your stress under control during the upcoming holiday season," said Byrd. "You will be very thankful that you did when January (and credit card statements) arrives."