BMO Harris Bank Financial Tip of the Week: Holiday Budgeting Tips

Nov 15, 2012, 15:26 ET from BMO Harris Bank

CHICAGO, Nov. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of BMO Harris Bank's ongoing commitment to financial literacy and Helping Make Money Make Sense, BMO Harris is providing weekly financial tips. This week's tip provides solutions to common holiday financial dilemmas.

When it comes to the spirit of giving, most of us have plenty to go around during the holiday season. But sometimes, our pocketbooks have trouble keeping up. Many people experience a money crunch around the holidays.

BMO Harris provides steps for getting out of these holiday binds:

"I can't afford to buy gifts for everyone this year."

There are plenty of options that don't involve buying a gift for every person on your list. For example, you can suggest your family draw names and focus on one person this year. Along with being a money saver, it's also a time saver since you won't have to think of as many gift ideas or visit as many stores.

"My best friend bought me an expensive gift – and I can't afford to reciprocate."

Your first inclination may be to buy an equally expensive gift even if you can't afford it. Don't do it. Instead, remember your budget and think of a unique, thoughtful gift that falls within your price range. Often, it's these gifts that end up being treasured the most.

"I need to make money – not spend money – at work."

Between Secret Santa activities, cookie exchanges, gift collections and fundraising campaigns, you may feel like you're spending more money at work than you're actually bringing home. Rather than try to make your dollars stretch to cover every activity, pick and choose the ones you most want to participate in. For example, if you love to bake, opt for the cookie exchange and skip Secret Santa this year.

"I want to go home for the holidays but can't afford the plane ticket."

With only a few paychecks left until the holidays, you'll need to carefully prioritize your needs and wants – and likely make a few cutbacks – if you want to fly home. Consider driving as little as possible to save on gas money and taking public transportation when you can. Eat at home or bring your lunch to work as often as possible and look for less expensive entertainment options, such as free concerts, holiday craft shows and gallery openings.

Next year, open a savings account in January to gradually save toward holiday travel. At BMO Harris Bank, you can sign up for Auto Save to have a pre-determined amount automatically transferred once a month from your checking account to savings account.

"I don't know how much I should tip during the holidays."

During the holiday season, it's standard practice to tip certain people you associate with. This may include your building manager, hairdresser, dog walker and doorman. The amount varies depending on what neighborhood you live in and who you are tipping. For standard suggestions, read a guide to holiday tipping.

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About BMO Harris Bank
Based in Chicago, BMO Harris Bank N.A. provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris BankSM is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with 1,600 branches, and a retail deposit base of approximately $180 billion.

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