skip to main content

DCU Routing Number: 211391825

DCU Assistant

Hi, anything I can help you with?

Posh Cross Close

Advantage Savings. Advantage You.

Earn 3.56% APY – higher than the national average.


Membership Required

Please note, membership is required to open a DCU Savings Account. Visit our membership eligibility page for more information.

How to Avoid Overspending During the Holidays

February 14, 2024
A couple holiday shopping

The lights. The delicious smells. The music. And unfortunately, the bills. It can be easy to get caught up in overspending during the holiday season. After all, it only comes once a year. However, many people end up paying for all that spending long into the new year. It doesn’t have to be that way.

If there’s one thing that puts a damper on all things cheery and bright, it’s financial stress. If you catch yourself stressing about the bills as your family unwraps their presents, it’s time for a change. This article can put an end to overspending during the holidays. Learn how planning ahead, simplifying holiday plans and smart travel can lower stress and make your holiday merry again.

Budgeting and Planning For a Less Stressful Holiday Season

There’s a lot that goes into the holiday season. Families and friends gather. Gifts are exchanged. There are parties, plays and shows. While celebrating can be fun, it all can add up and be overwhelming for you and your budget.

Since we know that the holiday season rolls around at the same time every year, it’s the perfect event to plan ahead for. Planning means coming up with a budget and knowing how much you’re going to spend on food, travel and gift-giving. Planning can also mean making or buying presents ahead of time when items are on sale throughout the year, not only in November when the “deals” may not actually be as good as they seem.

The most important planning? Saving. Saving for the season will make the most impact on carving away that holiday stress.

Consider saving through an Advantage Savings account and give your account a nickname labeled “Holiday Cheer” or something else that’s merry and bright. That way, not only do you earn above the national APY for savings accounts*, but you also make it more fun to put aside those holiday funds and track your savings as the season gets closer. It’s never too early to start saving. Keep the account open once the holidays are complete and start the process all over again as soon as you catch a breath after all the festivities.

If you’re using credit cards to buy gifts, make sure you stay on top of tracking your spending. Set aside time every week to take note of what you’ve spent to make sure that you’re sticking to the budget.

Avoiding the Holiday Spending Splurge

Every year, we’re bombarded with ads for sales. Bringing home packages is part of the holiday experience, and shopping can get out of control quickly. We loosely discussed saving for a budget, but that’s easier said than done. DCU offers a free savings calculator to help you understand how much you need to save on a regular basis to get on top of your holiday spending. If you have a certain amount set aside, you’ll be less tempted to go over budget.

We know with all the messages in advertising, music, and movies at this time of year, emotions can pressure you into spending more and more. Add traveling back home to see people you only see once a year and your budget can end up in a tailspin. 

Going to the stores with a skeptical state of mind might save you hundreds. Ask yourself some serious questions before you get your wallet out:

  • Would the person you’re buying this for really use the item? Close your eyes and picture it. If the vision is a stretch of the imagination and you think the item will end up on a dusty shelf, leave it.
  • Would I buy this at full price? Don’t buy into the red sticker hype. If you wouldn’t buy it at full price, don’t buy it at half-price.
  • Is this really a good deal? Track an item’s price history to see if you’re getting a good value. Retailer prices often skyrocket during the holiday season. Price tracking sites can show you the price history of items on online retailer sites. That way you can tell if you’re actually getting a good deal or if the retailer is inflating their prices in order to make it look like the item is on sale.

Think About Substance Over Style for Holiday Spending

Not every gift on your list has to be store-bought. A homemade gift can show that you’ve been thinking about someone a whole lot more than something purchased from a store. Here are a few ways to gift without racking up the receipts:

  • Treats in a jar: Mix dry ingredients in a jar for a treat that your loved one can enjoy anytime. Craft personalized hot chocolate mixes, popcorn toppings or even chicken noodle soup. Then, on a cold night not too long after the holidays, you know your loved one will be using your gift and thinking of you.
  • Write a whole pack of “just in case letters” and put them in a beautiful box. Letters might include notes for “When you need encouragement” or “When you need a cheap laugh.”
  • Give them a baby plant from your overgrown aloe or houseplant. Who doesn’t need a little something green in the depths of winter?
  • Give the gift of time: Promise to help them take down Christmas decorations, watch their kids or take them to the art museum.
  • Make your store-bought buying simple: Is there an inexpensive and awesome item that you use every day such as a really great pair of cooking tongs, a lotion that solves all winter’s dry skin problems or a shoehorn that makes slipping into winter boots easy? Buy that one special item for everyone on your list. Your enthusiasm for the item will be contagious.
  • When in doubt, bake cookies.

Sometimes extended families can fall into the habit of overspending. Gift-giving can turn into an arms race. If you’ve noticed this occurring, talk candidly and calmly to your family members before the holiday buying season starts. Let them know that you’ll be pulling back. Likely, everyone else participating will be relieved.

Holiday parties, especially when they’re with friends, don’t have to be limited to feasting and gift exchanges. Ask yourself if you really want to keep doing expensive traditions just because you’ve always done them. Just because you may have outgrown partying on New Year’s Eve doesn’t mean you have to stay on the couch alone.

Think about memorable meaningful ways to connect with people you love. Your new traditions can be as simple as taking a walk in the woods on New Year's Day or having a clothing exchange party before the season begins so that all of your friends can have a sparkling new holiday wardrobe without spending a dime.

Don’t Spend On The Holidays Alone: DCU Can Help

When you’re facing down the holidays, it can feel like the world is on your shoulders. Everything must be perfect. How could there be time for budgeting and checking your credit card statements? First, start planning nice and early. Secondly, reach out to your friends and family and tell them about your budgeting journey.

Last of all, reach out to a non-profit financial institution like DCU. Our team is passionate about leading our members to financial wellness with both counseling and education. Learn about becoming a member to get support. Making the magic happen might be a lot of work but you don’t need to do it alone.

Please note, membership is required to open a DCU savings account. Visit our membership eligibility page for more information.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as legal, financial, investment or tax advice or indicate that a specific DCU product or service is right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a financial professional.