With the approaching season of giving, many Americans find themselves overspending on holiday gifts and dipping into their savings. Investing during this time can seem difficult. Though with the right tips and tools, Americans can still invest smartly.
In 2017, 16 percent of parents said they had used money from their emergency funds to cover holiday spending, 12 percent had resorted to payday loans, and 9 percent had dipped into retirement savings, noted T. Rowe Price in a survey.
With the holidays right around the corner, here are three ways to be smart about spending and even stay in the investing game throughout the season.
Save with automatic deposits
One of the best ways to ensure you continue to invest and save over the holidays is to set up accounts that receive automatic contributions each month before you have the opportunity to spend that money elsewhere.
Open a money market account with automatic deposits, for example, suggests Member One Federal Credit Union. Money market accounts typically have higher dividend rates than checking and savings accounts and involve little to no risk.
Skip the indulgences
As holiday expenses pile up, you might need to skip some of your favorite indulgences to be consistent with investing.
Whether it's Friday night pizza or your favorite latte at the coffee shop, these expenses add up. One simple way to better use this cash is to calculate how much you spend on an item and then deposit that amount into your money market account in advance — typically on a weekly or monthly schedule, suggests The Balance.
Investors should avoid eating out and purchasing expensive meals (prepare food at home instead), then choose to invest the money saved by the change. This can make a big impact over time, especially for those early in their careers.
Set a budget for each person — and stick to it
While added expenses are inevitable during the holidays, they don't need to derail your monthly investment and savings goals.
Creating a budget for each gift recipient, especially children, can help you stay on track every month with spending and investing. Teaching your children about keeping their Christmas lists modest and their expectations realistic will help you stick to your budget.
"Too often, parents allow children to select wish lists that can get out of hand financially," Shannon McLay writes for Forbes. "The expensive wish list is great if Santa is truly footing the bill, but if you’re relying on American Express or Visa to help you out, then you need to give your kids a budget."
Remember, investing is a marathon and not a sprint. Taking a few months off, or, worse, dipping into long-established retirement funds to cover holiday expenses, can set you back months, even years.
"Putting that money into a 401(k) isn’t as fun as trying out a new restaurant or a fun vacation, nor will you see the money piling up for several years," as Member One Federal Credit Union explains. "But remember why you started this journey and track how much you’re earning. It will help you stay focused on your new investing goals."
Whether it's with a money market account or another investment option, contact Member One Federal Credit Union to help you plan and make sure your holiday expenses stay aligned with your investment goals.
Jason Bell is a graduate of the University of Utah and works as a full-time educator. He enjoys automotive consulting, as well as spending time with his wife, family, friends, and cars. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org