(BPT) - The holiday season is a time of family, friends and … spending. In the process of hosting and attending large or intimate holiday gatherings, the inevitable costs of travel, presents, decorations and food tend to stack up. With thousands of Americans celebrating holidays in November and December, it is no surprise that according to the National Retail Confederation the holiday season is the largest consumer spending time of the year. So, instead of starting the New Year with a nasty credit card bill, here are five simple tips to protect your finances during the holiday season:
- DIY festive wrapping paper: Use the brown paper from grocery store bags when wrapping gifts by cutting the bag at its corners and removing the handles to become a flat piece of paper. If you feel the minimalist kraft paper look is too plain for your liking, decorate the paper using markers or cotton swabs dipped in paint. For a more festive touch, try stringing a pinecone or stick of cinnamon to the package using twine.
- Use the NEW Exxon Mobil Rewards+™ app: Before making the trek to your holiday gathering, download the new Exxon Mobil Rewards+ app to start earning points on your journey over the river and through the woods. By paying through the new app, you avoid having to battle the elements at the pump and from now to February 2020, you can earn 5 cents per gallon when you pay through the app to be used at later fill-ups. If you are an existing Exxon Mobil Rewards+ member with Premium Status, you can earn up to 10 cents per gallon!
- Shop holiday décor at a thrift store: Over the past few years there has been an uptick in online thrift stores, such as LetGo or The RealReal, that sell high-end secondhand items. Score vintage pieces for your next holiday party or decor to style your home for the season.
- Book holiday travel smart: The holidays are one of the most expensive times to fly, but if your holiday feast is waiting for you a plane ride away don’t fret, as there are still ways to save on travel. While there is speculation around savings on the day you book, it is true the day you fly can drastically change the price tag. According to CheapAir’s 5th annual Airfare study, you can save if you fly in or out on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Apps like Hopper monitor and track trends in flights prices, with helpful notifications of when the best time to buy is.
- Make your Friendsgiving a potluck: Instead of catering or cooking your Friendsgiving feast, invite your pals to participate in the fun. Potluck dinners take out the pain of hours of preparation, giving you the chance as the host to spend more time with your guests. You can even make it themed by having each person bring a dish they grew up eating around the holidays, which can spark interesting conversations about family history and sentimental story telling.