Citizens Bank offers 11 spending and savings tips for the busy holiday shopping season
Late Thanksgiving holiday may put some ahead, others behind in their budgeting and shopping
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – With Thanksgiving falling at the end of November and holiday decorations and sales already in stores, Citizens Bank is offering shopping and spending tips to help consumers manage their finances and avoid overspending during the busy holiday shopping season. This year the National Retail Federation predicts consumers will spend more than $602 billion – up 3.9 percent from last year – for holiday purchases such as gifts, cards, decorations and other items.
“Whether you are the kind of shopper who has already gotten an early start or someone who plans to wait until after Thanksgiving, the excitement of the holiday season can make it easy to break the family budget,” said Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, President and CEO of Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. “We encourage everyone to plan ahead and to adopt a disciplined approach to shopping that can prevent overspending and unplanned debt. And these measures will pay dividends all year long – not just during the holidays.”
To help consumers manage their money, prevent the accumulation of debt and make the most of their holiday dollars, Citizens Bank suggests the following 11 guidelines:
- Build a budget – To manage your holiday spending, an important first step is to create a realistic budget that will help you to understand how much you can afford. Last year’s credit card statements and receipts may help you understand your spending habits and make it easier to avoid impulse purchases that can saddle you with holiday debt in the New Year.
- Make a list – Create a list of all of the people you would like to acknowledge during the holidays and set a spending limit for each name. Check your list against your budget and make adjustments as needed. To stay within your budget, take this list with you as you shop.
- Keep track as you spend – As you make purchases, keep a list of each gift and the amount you spend so that you can have a running total of all expenses. This will help you to quickly understand whether you are staying within your budget or need to make adjustments.
- Use credit cards responsibly – You are more likely to overspend when you carry all of your credit cards with you, so use one or two credit cards when shopping and leave the others at home. Use a credit card that offers rewards, keep track of what you charge and pay your credit card bill in full each month. If you make your purchases using a debit card, the amount will be deducted automatically from your checking account as you make purchases.
- Use your debit card, instead of cash – This will prevent the need to carry large amounts of cash through the crowded shopping malls. Additionally, you’ll be able to easily view where you spent your money through online banking or your statements at a future time.
- Keep information secure – Make a list of all your credit and debit card account numbers and phone numbers. Keep this list in a safe place in case your wallet is lost or stolen and you need to notify the bank or credit card company.
- Shop safely – Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
- Comparison shop – Your money will go further if you use coupons, watch for sales, review advertised offers and compare prices at stores and online retailers. In addition to price, your comparison should include model, color, quality, return policy and other factors that could easily turn your bargain into a disappointment.
- Make a donation to charity – Instead of trying to find the perfect gift, consider making a contribution in someone’s name to a local charity. Many charities gladly accept gift donations that they will use to bring warmth and good cheer to those in need during the holidays.
- Involve your children – Treat the holiday shopping season as a teachable moment. When you share your experiences in budgeting, shopping and spending, you can help your children begin to learn the basics of money management and start them on the road to being fiscally healthy. If your children receive gifts of cash and checks, depositing the funds into a passbook savings account is a great way to learn about the importance of saving and the fun of watching balances grow.
- Start a 2014 holiday savings plan – Consider beginning an automatic savings plan for next year’s holiday shopping. Pay yourself first by automatically putting money aside in a savings account for the 2014 holiday season. Citizens Bank’s GoalTrack SavingsSM can help you create a plan, track your progress, and get rewarded when you reach your goal.
These holiday shopping tips are offered as part of the bank’s Citizens Helping Citizens Teach Money Management program, which includes financial support for local nonprofits focused on financial education and also the bank’s effort to educate customers and communities directly through financial tips shared online, in branches and in social media. Earlier this year, the bank pledged a commitment of $2 million in 2013 grants supporting financial education.
About Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank is a division of RBS Citizens, N.A., operating its seven-state branch network in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. It has 47 branches and 125 ATMs in Connecticut. It has 24 branches and 52 ATMs in Delaware. It has 252 branches and 749 ATMs in Massachusetts. It has 74 branches and 194 ATMs in New Hampshire. It has 154 branches and 379 ATMs in New York. It has 82 branches and 193 ATMs in Rhode Island. It has 21 branches and 44 ATMs in Vermont.
RBS Citizens, N.A., is a subsidiary of RBS Citizens Financial Group, Inc., a $120 billion commercial bank holding company. It is headquartered in Providence, R.I., and through its subsidiaries has approximately 1,400 branches, over 3,500 ATMs and more than 18,000 colleagues. It operates a branch network in 12 states and has non-branch retail and commercial offices in more than 30 states. Its two bank subsidiaries are RBS Citizens, N.A., and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. They operate a branch network under the Citizens Bank brand in Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont; and the Charter One brand in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. RBSCFG is owned by RBS (the Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc). RBSCFG’s website is citizensbank.com
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