Select a category below:

What’s the Best Way to Pay for the Holidays?

By: American Heritage11.10.22

The holidays are right around the corner, and you likely already started your holiday shopping. As much as you’d like to give your loved ones everything on their wish list, the cost of gifts, decorations, travel, and other holiday festivities can really add up. However, with a little bit of planning and responsible spending, you can celebrate the holiday season and keep your budget intact.


Make a List & Check It Twice

First things first: decide who you plan to buy for. If you have a large extended family with lots of cousins, nieces, and nephews, you might need to pare down your list to keep the number manageable. For example, you could decide to give gifts only to immediate family or children under a certain age. For older family members or those you rarely see, getting a gift from you probably isn't a big deal.


Create a Holiday Budget

Next, review your current financial situation and determine how much you can comfortably afford to spend this holiday season — including gifts, travel to visit family, and other miscellaneous expenses that inevitably pop up (like when you realize all your sparkling lights need to be replaced).

Take a look at your budget and allocate how much you plan to spend on gifts for each person on your list. Although you might want to keep the amount equal for all recipients, consider what stage of life they’re in — it’s perfectly acceptable to spend more on an older teen obsessed with the latest tech gadgets than on a young child who still appreciates the wrapping paper more than the actual gift inside.   


Explore Your Options

Now that you’ve determined how many people you need to buy gifts for and set a total spending goal, have you thought about how you’re going to pay for everything?


  • Savings: Ideally, you’ve been saving throughout the year for the upcoming holidays, either in a regular savings account or in a Holiday Club Account that’s designed for this purpose. If you don’t already have a dedicated holiday savings account, go ahead and set one up now to help you get in the habit of saving for the holidays. You can set up recurring deposits of as little as $5 a week and look forward to a stress-free holiday season this time next year.
  • Credit Cards: If your savings balance isn’t quite as jolly as you’d hoped, you can always take advantage of a low-rate credit card, or one with a 0% interest intro offer, to help you cover your holiday spending. Check out this special offer for our Platinum Preferred Mastercard, which offers great rates that make it easier to pay off your balance at your own pace. You can also earn ScoreCard® Rewards points for your purchases and redeem your points for gift cards, electronics, and merchandise — which you can then give to the people on your list and reduce your out-of-pocket expenses. Just remember to stick to the holiday budget you created to help you avoid overspending, so you don’t end up with a higher credit card balance than you anticipated in the new year.
  • Debit Card Rewards: If you have an American Heritage checking account, you can use your Independence Debit Card to earn ScoreCard® Reward points for your debit card purchases. Just use your debit card for everyday spending, like groceries, gas, and other essentials, then easily redeem your points for gift cards, travel, and more.
  • Personal Loans: If you plan to make larger purchases, a personal loan is a great option for anyone who prefers a predictable monthly payment. With competitive rates and a repayment period up to 10 years, it’s a convenient way to pay for more expensive items over time.


Think Outside the Box

If your savings are low and you can’t or don’t want to borrow, don’t worry. There are still lots of ways you can celebrate the holidays affordably.


  • Go Through Your Stuff: Chances are, you already have a lot of items in your own home that you don’t use or need. Either sell your unwanted items and use the extra cash to buy gifts or regift clothing and household goods. Give that sweater you bought and never wore with the tags still on it, or the throw pillows you received for your birthday that don’t match your home décor, to people on your list who will actually enjoy them. 
  • Take Advantage of Free or Discounted Items: Scour your local social media pages, community sites, and “freecycle” groups to find low- or no-cost gifts for your loved ones.
  • Make Your Own Gifts: A little creativity can go a long way. Bake cookies, assemble wreaths, or tap into your crafting skills to make presents. There are literally hundreds of ideas online.
  • Give the Gift of Time: Offer services to friends and family instead of material items. You can volunteer to babysit, shovel snow, walk their dog, help them declutter, or drop off a meal — the possibilities are endless!


Here for You During the Holidays and Year-Round

As a member-owned, not-for-profit financial institution, American Heritage is committed to helping our valued members achieve long-term financial well-being. Check out our free financial wellness resources to learn how to make the most of your money and take the stress out of seasonal spending. From our family to yours, happy holidays!



Want to stay up-to-date with more financial articles like this one? Join our email list and receive the latest blog articles in your inbox.