NORWAY, Maine — With consumer sentiment the highest it’s been since the recession, shoppers are expected to open their wallets a bit wider this year. Will holiday spending leave shoppers in the red? Not if they plan wisely and use some common sense tips from Norway Savings Bank. “This is the most festive time of year, but consumers don’t have to end up overspending this holiday season,” said Darci Hamm, Senior Vice President, Retail Banking. “Simple planning can make the holidays more care-free and enjoyable when you know you’re in control of your budget.”
To help consumers spend within their means and enjoy a financially happy New Year, Norway Savings Bank offers the following tips:
- Develop a budget. Before you start shopping, develop a realistic budget. Consider your income, subtract your normal monthly expenses, and then add any savings to whatever cash is left over. If you need to use your credit card, think about what you can afford to pay back in January. Don’t forget costs beyond gifts, like postage, gift wrap, decorations, greeting cards, food, travel and charitable contributions.
- Make a list and check it twice. Keep your gift list limited to family and close friends, noting how much you want to spend on each.
- Spend carefully. Avoid shopping while rushed or under pressure, which can lead to overspending. Make sure to comparison shop online first, or download an “app” that lets you compare prices before you buy anything in a store. Before you head to the cashier (or online “checkout”), make sure your purchase is within the budget you set.
- Avoid traps. Finding a spectacular sale on something you’ve been wanting can easily throw you off course. Stay strong and stick to your budget. And don’t apply for store credit cards you don’t need just to get a one-time discount.
- Use credit wisely. Limit the use of credit for holiday spending. If you must use credit, use only one card, preferably the one with the lowest interest rate, and leave the rest at home. Pick a date when you can pay off your holiday credit card bills, and commit to paying off the balance by that time. Be sure to check statements for unauthorized charges and report them immediately.
- Save your receipts. Not only will you need them for possible returns, you’ll need them to keep track of what you’ve spent and to compare with your credit card statement. Knowing how much you spent will help you plan for next year, too.
- Be creative. Consider simple, hand-made gifts instead of store-bought ones. Send greeting cards or handwritten notes of appreciation for those outside of your list. Home-baked goods, simple crafts or hand-made gift certificates for your time or talents are often less expensive and more appreciated that what you would buy at a mall or big-box store.
Norway Savings Bank is committed to helping consumers responsibly handle credit and save for the future. If you don’t have one already, make it a New Year’s resolution to open a Holiday Club savings account for next year!
About Norway Savings Bank
Founded in 1866, Norway Savings Bank is a leading mutual banking and financial services company headquartered in Norway, Maine. As of September 30, 2014, Norway Savings Bank had $998 million in total assets and provided financial services to over 38 thousand households throughout western and southern Maine. Norway Savings Bank has 23 branch locations and operates divisions in asset management, personal banking and business banking. In December 2013, BauerFinancial, Inc., the nation’s leading bank rating and research firm, honored Norway Savings Bank with its highest 5-Star rating for the last 96 consecutive quarters. In 2007 and 2008, Norway Savings Bank was recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Maine by the Society for Human Resource Management’s Maine State Council. Norway earned the Financial Marketing Excellence Award from the American Bankers Association for its “Colorful Solutions” brand campaign in 2009. Most recently, Norway Savings Bank was awarded the 2013 Governor’s Award for Business Excellence, recognized as one of the 2013 Best Banks to Work For by American Banker and Best Companies Group, and distinguished as a Gold-Level Well Workplace by the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA). Norway also received the Gold-Level Well Workplace award from WELCOA in 2011. This award distinguishes Norway Savings Bank as one of the healthiest companies in America. For more information, visit www.norwaysavingsbank.com.