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8 ways to save money during the holidays
The holiday season is a time for giving—but it’s also a time for spending. Due to the effects of inflation, the cost of everything has skyrocketed. Higher rates across the board don’t help, either. Despite the obstacles being hurled our way, it’s possible to still make the holiday season merry and bright while saving some cash, too. Here are eight ways you can save money during the holidays.
1. Stick to a budget
Before you begin shopping, create a budget. If you’re one of the savvy shoppers who opened a Holiday Savings account or a short-term certificate of deposit (CD), now’s the time to put those funds to use—but don’t go overboard. Plan how much you’ll spend on gifts, entertaining, travel, and other small expenses, like holiday cards and stamps. You should also add room for extra spending in case you want to treat yourself—or if you unexpectedly receive a gift from a co-worker and need to return the favor.
2. Create a holiday shopping list
It may be the season of giving, but that doesn’t mean you need to give to everyone. Create a holiday shopping list after establishing your budget, and stick to it. Shopping for only those who need gifts is a huge way to save money during the holidays. List the people you need to shop for and how much you plan to spend on their gift. If you’re over budget, the easiest way to trim your budget is by trimming the number of people.
3. Cut spending elsewhere
If you need wiggle room in your budget, cut spending elsewhere, like dining out or streaming services. Let’s face it—you don’t regularly use every streaming platform you subscribe to. Save an extra $10-$20 a month by pausing a couple of streaming services through the holidays, and resume your subscription in January. Or, if you find yourself dining out more often than necessary, save by shopping at the grocery store and planning meals at home.
4. Spend responsibly
When used responsibly, shopping with a credit card can be beneficial during the holidays. If you find a credit card with a great introductory bonus, you may meet the requirements just by checking off your holiday shopping list (depending on your budget, of course). If you’ve already racked up rewards points, you can cash in those points for gifts, airline tickets, or hotels. If you don’t trust yourself to stick within your budget while using a credit card, you can opt for cash. Whatever your budget is, withdraw that from your checking account and use that cash to shop—once it’s gone, it’s gone.
5. Shop strategically
When you shop is just as important as where you shop. Also, think about what you need to purchase. If you’re looking to score deals on TVs and other electronics, pre-Black Friday and Black Friday deals are your best bet. Cyber Monday is great for shopping for clothes and travel deals, and it’s often a repeat of Black Friday offers. As Christmas approaches, many retailers also discount toys and games to avoid getting stuck with them after the holidays. Super Saturday is the Saturday before Christmas and is filled with last-minute deals for those who haven’t finished their holiday shopping yet. These deals can be huge ways to save money during the holidays.
6. Consider non-monetary gifts
Experiences and favors for family and friends can sometimes be more meaningful than material gifts. If your budget is lower this year, opt for non-monetary gifts. Volunteer to watch your sister’s kids so she can have a night out. Or, help an elderly relative with housework and running errands. Even handmade gifts, like scrapbooks or a framed photo of a special memory, can be more meaningful than something expensive.
7. Give the gift of your time
Volunteering can be the greatest gift of all. If you and your family or friends have everything you need, why not volunteer during the holidays instead of exchanging gifts? Help out a local soup kitchen, host a coat drive, volunteer at a nursing home, or help wherever else you’re needed. Just a few hours of volunteering your time can brighten the holidays for dozens of people. If you’re stuck on ideas, volunteermatch.org posts various volunteer opportunities, and you can filter by category to find something that piques your interest.
8. Celebrate after the holidays
Traveling during the holidays can add up quickly between flights, transportation, and hotels. It can also be stressful and overwhelming due to the sheer volume of people. If you’re visiting family or want to travel during the holidays, celebrate after to help save big on travel costs. You’ll even save on gifts if you wait for post-holiday sales to shop. If you can’t wait until after the holidays to celebrate, try to book in advance and avoid high fares.
4 ways to save on sporting events
For many people, their lives revolve around sports. It’s how they connect to their families, bond with strangers, and choose to spend their hard-earned money. Sure, you can catch a game on television, but for some, that will never beat the feeling of sitting in a packed stadium, taking in the sounds and smells, and enjoying their favorite team. However, tickets can be a little pricey—especially now due to inflation. Worry no more sports fans: here are four ways to save on sporting events.
1. Use a ticket resale site
Let’s say you and your friends want to see your favorite team last minute. You get excited, look at ticket prices, and frown—the tickets are too expensive, and you can’t justify spending that much money. The solution? Ticket resale sites. These sites allow people to buy and sell tickets at various prices, making this a good option for people trying to purchase last-minute seats. You can often find multiple tickets at different prices, allowing you to see your favorite teams at a lower cost.
Use caution and be aware of the face value of the tickets you are attempting to purchase on these sites. Don’t automatically assume that the tickets sold on these sites are the best or cheapest—some people buy and resell tickets at a higher price, looking to make a quick buck. If you find tickets below face value, this can be a safe, easy, and affordable option for sporting events.
2. Buy tickets in bulk
Many teams offer discounted rates for groups larger than eight or ten, which could be anywhere from $50 off or 20% off the total price. It’s a great, cost-effective way to enjoy a game with friends. What could be better? This deal usually depends on the stadium or team box office, but if you reach out, you may receive a discount. Finding a large group of people to go to a single sporting event with you isn’t always easy. If it’s not an option, you can try finding individual seats in a section (which can sometimes be cheaper). If you have a large friend group, buying in bulk can make for an inexpensive and fun-filled outing.
3. Plan and budget
Planning and budgeting seem like an obvious answer, as most people who are effective budgeters set aside money to use for entertainment costs. However, with the rising prices of sports tickets, concessions, and more, you need to set aside a larger sum of money to attend a game. One solution is to pick a game in the future, set aside money, and save. Once you reach the time to purchase your ticket and go to the game, you may have even saved up enough money to get a higher-quality ticket.
With a Georgia’s Own savings account, you’ll have a secure place to store your cash that you’ve worked so hard to save—and reach your goal in no time. We even offer goal-based savings, so you can make sure whatever funds you set aside will be used towards your next sporting event or even a vacation.
4. Use team memberships
The easiest way to get specific deals and memberships for your preferred sports team is to become a member of your team’s fan incentive group. Sometimes these organizations have membership fees, which are usually not expensive, but more often than not, these groups put you on a text or email list at no cost. These notifications allow you access to specific deals only available to members, such as reduced ticket prices, packages, and more. You’ll also have access to priority seating and higher-cost items for a reduced price. For example, some sports offer four- or five-game ticket packages. This can reduce costs while also offering other perks, like great seats and access to other parts of the fan experience.
There are other ways to obtain low-cost tickets through buying from people on resale sites, negotiating with friends, or finding a ticket through social media. However, these four ways of buying sports tickets can allow you to experience live sports without breaking the bank. So go out and enjoy that game with your family and friends—now you can afford it!
How to budget money on a lower income
We all know managing money wisely is essential to anyone’s financial plan. It’s easier said than done, though—especially if you aren’t making as much money. Most budgeting tips are geared towards people who earn higher salaries or have dozens of options for storing their money. Can you manage money when you feel like you have nothing? The answer is yes, and we’re here to help. Read on for tips on how to budget money on a lower income.
Analyze your current budget
The easiest way to budget money on a lower income is by analyzing your current budget. By looking at your complete financial picture, you can see where you can cut expenses or what you need to prioritize. Ideally, 6-15% of your net income should go towards transportation costs. If you find you’re overspending in that area, see what solutions you can implement, like refinancing your car loan or negotiating your insurance.
If you don’t have a budget, this is your chance to make one. A common budgeting tactic is the 50/30/20 rule. Divide your after-tax income into three categories: needs, wants, and savings. 50% of your budget should go towards needs like rent/mortgage, groceries, transportation, utilities, and insurance. 30% will go towards wants like dining out, entertainment, gym memberships, or shopping. Lastly, 20% will go towards savings like an emergency fund or a down payment on a house.
Set attainable financial goals
Setting reasonable financial goals will help you stay on track. Ensuring they’re SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based—allows you to reach your goal. For example, if student loan debt is overwhelming you, your intent might be to pay off a $10,000 student loan in 36 months. That qualifies as a SMART goal because it is specific, a measurable amount, achievable within your means, relevant, and has a timestamp.
Strategize paying off debt
If you’re struggling with paying off debt, the snowball method is an excellent tool to get it under control and manage money on a lower income. Start by listing your debts from the smallest to the largest dollar amount (not including your mortgage). Take extra money from your budget, apply it to the smallest debt, and then make the minimum payments on your other debt. Once that smallest debt is paid, you’ll move on to the next and continue the process. Another method is the opposite—the avalanche method. Rather than listing your debts from the smallest to largest dollar amount, you pay off debts with the highest interest rates first. This also reduces your overall debt load faster.
The snowball method is more of a motivational boost—paying off debt seems more manageable when you get rid of your lowest debt first. The biggest con, though, is your high-interest debts accumulate more interest when you make only the minimum payment. The avalanche method is a smarter choice financially because you pay less interest overall. However, your smallest debts may be the ones with the highest interest—like credit card debt. In this case, you’ll be practicing both methods at the same time. But, it’s important to choose the method that works best for you.
Cut unnecessary expenses
Did you know the average American spends $237 per month on subscriptions? That’s nearly $3,000 per year! You can use that money to pay off debt, save for a home, or build an emergency fund. If you’re on a tight budget, cutting unnecessary expenses is your ticket to saving big. Canceling unused or unwanted subscriptions is the perfect beginning step. For example, if you have a Spotify and a Pandora subscription, do you need both? Cancel the one you use less frequently. Or maybe getting fit was your New Year’s resolution—but you never go to the gym. See if you can get out of that costly contract.
Create positive spending habits
Budgeting sometimes has a negative connotation. Creating positive spending habits allows you to look differently at how you spend your hard-earned money. Reducing credit card spending is an easy way to start. Credit cards aren’t evil, but bad spending habits can accumulate in the form of credit card debt. Remove stored credit card information from online sites where you find the urge to splurge. Instead, open a savings account for larger purchases.
Impulse buying is another habit to kick to the curb. You may feel happy during the moment, but impulse purchases rack up quickly and take a toll on your finances. If your impulse purchases aren’t monitored, your account can quickly deplete. Before you make an unplanned purchase, wait a day or two. This will give you time to think about whether you need it or not—it also gives you time to shop for a better deal.
It’s possible to break the cycle of living paycheck-to-paycheck and set yourself up for financial success. Despite how difficult it may seem, you can get in financial shape—with some effort. It’s not easy to live on a tight budget, but by following the above tips, you can improve your financial outlook and achieve your goals.
Rainy day fund: how to save $1,000 and why it matters
In a perfect world, emergencies would never exist—but we all know that unplanned events or emergency needs can happen at any time. You don’t need to live in fear, but you do need to be prepared. That’s why we always recommend having some money set aside to use for life’s unexpected necessities. You hope you never need it, but it’s always better to have it. Read on for more info on how you can save up your rainy day fund and why it matters to you.
What is a rainy day fund?
A rainy day fund, or emergency fund, is exactly what it sounds like: money set aside for the express purpose of being used for an unexpected emergency. Please note that by emergency, we mean something related to medical needs, job loss, or something else necessary to life—not that your favorite store is having a once-in-a-lifetime sale. Be wise when spending your rainy day funds.
How much do I need?
Many experts recommend keeping at least $1,000 in your rainy day fund to start with. Ideally you would be able to keep half a year’s earnings in your emergency fund, but starting small will allow you to create a fund without blowing up your budget. Even an amount like $500 can go a long way in an unexpected situation.
There are multiple options for places you can store your rainy day fund—you may choose to keep it in a high-yield savings account or you may prefer to keep it stashed in your locked safe at home. The most important consideration is that the money needs to be easy to access during an emergency but not so easily accessed that you are tempted to use the funds for something else. For some people, that’s a regular checking account; for others, it may be a special account that your CPA helps you set up. Find the solution that fits your needs and plan accordingly.
Emergencies happen all the time—it may be an unexpected root canal that your insurance only partially covers, or you might find yourself laid off from your job without warning. We don’t want to scare you, but it is imperative to understand that, since emergencies are part of life, using this fund for a rainy day need is the whole point. While you don’t want to spend your funds unnecessarily, it’s also critical to remember that you may have to use it—and you’ll be glad it’s there if you do.
How do I save the money?
Setting aside $1,000 is an easy task for some and may take months of effort for others—only you know what your financial situation is. If it will take some planning to make it happen, we have a few ideas on ways you can build your savings until your fund is ready to go. Below are four tips to help you get started:
1. Use an app to start saving
There are lots of apps designed to help you set aside a little bit of money at a time, so put them to work for you and start investigating your options. You can determine the amount you want to set aside every month so you don’t sacrifice your budget for your emergency fund.
2. Make a monthly goal
If apps aren’t your style, you can still apply the same concept to saving money on your own. Use a large soda bottle or even a piggy bank to set aside your extra change and money on a regular basis—those small deposits will add up quickly and give you the opportunity to set aside a little money at a time.
3. Review your budget
Sometimes, saving up for your emergency fund is as simple as reviewing your budget. Look for places in your finances that can be trimmed down or eliminated and reroute that money to your emergency fund. It might not even be a permanent change—once your rainy day money is all set up, you can resume your previous budget spending.
4. Consider some credit
We never recommend that you ignore your budget when using your credit card(s). But it might be wise to consider opening a card that is to be used only for serious emergencies. This would allow you to cover your expenses even if you haven’t had time to prep your emergency fund.
We all hope that our rainy day funds never get used—but we also need to be prepared if they should be needed. Work with a financial planner to determine how much you can set aside each month and watch as your emergency fund grows to cover the expenses of keeping you and your family safe and well.
Back-to-school shopping: Five tips to save big
Shopping for school supplies can seem daunting. Between the varieties of notebooks, pens, pencils, folders, and more, the choices are overwhelming—and expensive. Let’s face it—no one wants to spend $40 on notebooks that will more than likely be thrown away in nine months. But, there are more ways to save on supplies besides your typical coupons. Try these tips to make your back-to-school shopping a breeze.
1. Find what you already own
Before venturing out to partake in the craziness of back-to-school shopping, look around your home for what you already own. If you already have hundreds of pens, pencils, markers, or crayons, there’s no need to purchase more when you have plenty at your disposal. Plus, you’ll avoid the dreaded begging for the unnecessary 64-pack of crayons—because who needs 64 crayons? No one, that’s who.
2. Wait until you receive a definite list
Avoid back-to-school shopping until you have a definitive list of the school supplies you need. Waiting until you know what supplies your kids need will not only save you the hassle of purchasing anything unnecessary but also prevents you from overspending—kids don’t always need every single item on their list. After school starts, have your child ask their teacher if there are any items they won’t need. By knowing exactly what you need to purchase, you can then take the time to research which stores have the best deals, plus determine a budget.
3. Purchase supplies after school starts
Try to shop for the majority of your supplies after school starts. It’s okay to purchase any essentials before the school year begins, but do the bulk of your shopping the week after school starts. Most stores typically put their remaining supplies on sale, allowing you to make the most out of your money. However, most of the supplies will likely be picked over. If you find an item that is well priced, then go ahead and purchase it because it may not last until it’s time to be put on clearance. If you’re not picky, then wait until stores are desperate to get rid of their remaining school supplies stock.
4. Price match
Dozens of major retailers price match competitors. Retailers want to prove that they have the lowest prices around, so if you’re back-to-school shopping and realize you can purchase something elsewhere for cheaper, ask for a price match. Typically, all you need to do is show the competitor’s ad or use your phone to show where you found a better price. However, most stores won’t price match on items that are on clearance or BOGO. But, retailers differ on their price match policies, so check to see what they will or will not allow.
5. Stock up if you can
If you can, purchase some supplies in bulk. You’ll save yourself from making multiple trips, and you can use supplies the following school year, which ultimately saves you money. Items like pencils, pens, folders, and composition notebooks are great to buy in bulk. However, remember to research where to find the best deals and compare prices per unit to ensure you’re getting the most out of your money.
These tips are sure to make your school supply shopping a piece of cake and help you find everything you need to make this school year the best one yet! Back-to-school shopping doesn’t always need to be a hassle—make the most of your school supply shopping today by switching to a Georgia’s Own Visa® contactless credit card. When you open a new Georgia’s Own Visa Signature®, Platinum, or Student Visa, you could earn up to $150, making back-to-school shopping that much more rewarding.*
*Promotional period begins April 1, 2021 and ends December 31, 2021. Open a new Georgia’s Own Visa Signature® card and spend $1,500 in the first three months of account opening and earn 19,500 points, which can be redeemed for $150 in cash back. Open a new Georgia’s Own Visa® Platinum card and spend $1,000 in the first three months to receive 13,000 points, which can be redeemed for $100 in cash back. Points will be applied within two billing cycles if the account is in good standing. Offer may be withdrawn without notice.
10 smart savings tips for young adults
We all know it’s important to save money, but the way that you should save will vary from decade to decade. That’s because your financial needs change over transitional times in your life. Your income and expenses affect your ability and possibly motivation to save. New financial needs come with lifestyle changes, so let’s talk about smart savings tips for young adults.
In your 20s…
You may be earning an entry-level salary, living alone or with roommates, and for the first time, not relying on parents to foot your bills. Likely, you haven’t been concerned with saving money. But there is no better time to start saving than right now.
Create a Budget – Be sure to include bills you have to pay, weekly expenses like food and gas, along with an emergency fund.
Establish an Emergency Fund – Start contributing now to an emergency fund. This is for a rainy day. It’s always a great habit to have money set aside for an emergency.
Contribute to a 401k – Retirement may be a long ways off, but contributing to your 401k is building your financial future. It is a great idea to set aside whatever your employer is willing to match.
Don’t Drown in Debt – Now is the time to start tackling those student loans. Be aggressive and seek financial advice for a repayment plan.
Practice Self Control – Qualify for a credit card? Cool. It’s wise to pay your balance in full, follow your budget and live within your means.
In your 30s…
You may have gone through major life changes, like buying a home, getting married, or having children. You are probably more settled, earning more money, and more motivated to save.
Reassess and Adjust Your Budget – It’s important to adjust your budget with any major life change. New job? New mortgage? New family? Reassess your expenses and adjust your budget accordingly.
Grow Your Savings – Make your savings work for you! By putting your money in a savings account or money market, your money can actually accrue interest and make you more money.
Plan for Retirement – Placing 10-15% of your earnings into your 401k is ideal. Consider this to be the cornerstone to a solid, financial future.
Pay Off Debt – Hopefully you set up a repayment plan in your 20s and can now focus on eliminating your debt altogether.
Advance Your Career – One way to save more is to make more! Evaluate your position and ask yourself, could I do more to move up here?