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Holiday spending plans can reduce gift shopping stress

☷Holiday spending plans can reduce gift shopping stress

U.S. Army
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   Samantha Cote , financial counselor , Transition Assistance Program , leads a financial spending plan clinic Nov . 15 at the TAP facility , 5661 Screaming Eagle Blvd . Cote said having a spending plan is important heading into the holiday season , and recommends getting started on saving money a year ahead of time to avoid taking on credit card debt . FORT CAMPBELL , Ky . – The holidays are right around the corner , and Soldiers looking to provide the perfect Christmas for their Families may be struggling to make their money work for them . However , ......Fort Campbell is home to several services and subject matter experts who can help them along the way . Army Community Service , or ACS , and the Transition Assistance Program , or TAP , offer financial counseling , and Soldiers can also consult their brigade - level financial counselor . “I always tell everybody to start with a spending plan , ” said Brett Ives , personal financial readiness specialist , Army Community Service - Financial Readiness . “Create a list of everybody who you’re planning to gift something to and set a limit on how much you’re going to spend on each person . Then shop around and take your time finding the best prices on each item , ” Ives said . Spending plans are even more effective when they’re developed a year in advance , said Samantha Cote , financial counselor , Transition Assistance Program . “If you save for that holiday all year round , you don’t have to worry about it later because you’ve been planning for it the entire time , ” Cote said . “Let’s say my short - term goal is to save $1 , 000 for Christmas by December of next year – I can plan to save about $80 a month and put that aside into a separate account . ” No matter the timeline on a spending plan , she said using the SMART method – specific , measurable , action - focused , realistic and time - bound – is an effective way to stay on target . “It’s about stating your goals very specifically and clearly , ” Cote said . “When a goal is measurable , you know there’s a clear success point for what you’re trying to meet , like raising a specific amount of money or raising your credit score to a certain amount . ” She said SMART goals should also be achievable and realistic within the planner’s current financial situation and adding a time limit encourages follow through on the spending plan . Having a plan in place can set Soldiers and Families up for success , but they can also practice smart shopping to cut back on costs . “For example , there’s price matching at the Exchange , ” Ives said . “And they don’t charge sales tax , which is a huge benefit – especially in this area when you have a 9 . 5% sales tax rate in Montgomery County . Take advantage of military discounts as well , and always ask businesses if they offer them . ” Ives also recommends Soldiers and Families exercise caution when shopping online , particularly when it comes to choosing which websites they order from . “There are a lot of scams out there , especially during the holidays , so make sure it’s a legitimate website , ” he said . “I always suggest that if people are shopping online , they use a credit card rather than a debit card , because if a debit card number gets stolen it’s linked directly to their bank account . But if it’s a credit card number and you have a fraudulent charge , you can dispute it and they’ll typically refund you that money . ” However , Ives said it is important for shoppers to make sure they can afford any purchases made using a credit card to avoid taking on debt . “What happens when people don’t plan their Christmas purchases . . . is that it ends up on a credit card because you panic and don’t have the money for it , ” Cote said . Overspending with credit cards can mean paying interest and paying more money in the long run , she said . According to the Federal Reserve , the average credit card interest rate in the third quarter of 2022 was 18 . 43% , reflecting a steady upward trend . Paying off that interest can prove challenging for Soldiers and Families . “Debt is a really hard cycle to break , especially if you have several credit cards and you don’t have the room in your budget to pay them off , ” Cote said . “That will affect you for several months depending on how fast you’re willing to pay off your credit cards , and if you continue to use them it’s significantly harder . ” Those looking to avoid that outcome can schedule an appointment with ACS - Financial Readiness by calling 270 - 798 - 5518 , or visit TAP at 5661 Screaming Eagle Blvd . to consult with financial advisers and develop a spending plan . “Creating amounts to set aside for things is very helpful in budgeting for the Christmas season and holidays in general , ” Cote said . “Breaking it down into steps makes it easier instead of just taking on that full cost at Christmas , and there are also tons of creative gifts that don’t require money . ”


24 November 2022 ( November 24 2022 )



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