With Christmas less than two weeks away, it’s still not too late to help your finances while shopping for the holidays! While the excitement of this season can be a magical time for children, adults face a plethora of additional expenses during this time of the year. Whether its gifts, food, decorations, the perfect outfit for that holiday party, or airfare to visit family – there’s no denying the holidays can put a major dent in your wallet.

You’re not alone. According to a 2016 Mid-Year Consumer Survey, conducted by the Ohio Credit Union League, 22 percent of respondents spend more than $1,000 on holiday expenses, 35 percent between $500 and $1,000, and 28 percent between $300 and $500.

With so many additional expenses packed into the final weeks of the year, it’s surprising how few people set money aside throughout the year for these year-end holiday expenses.

Here are some tips to help your finances during the holiday season:

  • Credit card rewards: Many credit cards offer reward points for using their card. These points can be used like cash to purchase merchandise such as gift cards or electronics. Try cashing in your points to cover the cost of someone’s gift. If you don’t have a rewards credit card, check with your credit union!
  • Bargain shop: Check reputable online sites to search for bargains, even at this late date. But be sure to take precautions before submitting credit card and other personal information. If you haven’t signed up for Amazon Prime yet, it may be worth it just for the free and fast shipping, especially if you do a lot of online shopping.
  • Holiday club account: It’s never too early to plan for next year. Consider enrolling in a credit union holiday club account to start saving for next year’s holiday expenses. It’s basically a savings account that you stash money in all year, and have limited access to until the holiday season rolls around.

While no one can predict what 2017 will bring, it’s a safe bet that December 25, 2017 will be here before we know it. A little bit of planning now can make next year’s holiday season more affordable!

Source: Ohio Credit Union League [OCUL]