A&FRC offers holiday budgeting tips

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Montse Ramirez
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
During the holiday season, many retailers try to lure in customers by playing holiday music, displaying decorations, and spraying stores with scents that will trigger the holiday spirit, making customers more likely to spend their hard-earned money.

Helping Airmen not fall into a spending craze is R.D. "Smitty" Smith, 509th Force Support Squadron community readiness consultant, who offers simple tips on holiday budgeting.
Be proactive/plan ahead- Prepare a budget 11 months prior to the holidays. "Making a budget and knowing exactly how much you plan to spend each year in gifts, and then saving up that monthly amount to reach that goal is the best way to go," said the Air Force Global Strike Command civilian.

Cash or credit- "I recommend paying cash. When you use a credit card, on average, people pay two dollars back for every dollar spent," said Mr. Smith. "It's also easier for some people to budget if they actually see the money being spent."

If families are a little tight on cash this year, Mr. Smith recommends Airmen to give homemade gifts because they are inexpensive and more meaningful. For example, giving a loved one 12 vouchers from anything to a massage, cleaning the house or making dinner can be more thoughtful than buying that loved one a sweater.

Another item that has hit the scene in recent years is prepaid gift cards. Parents can use them as credit-card training for their children and teens. Instead of buying a gift, families can pool their money together for a gift card and give it to that special someone who can then spend it on something they need or want instead of wasting money on a gift that will not be used.

One thing Mr. Smith doesn't recommend is online shopping. "It's a risk for identity theft [which is especially high during the holiday season]," he said. "I would advise having a prepaid credit-card that limits liability."

Along with liability, Mr. Smitty recommends limiting spending habits.

"In this economy, it's easy to spend on our loved ones, but it's difficult to get out of debt and better to give a more humble gift."

By following these tips, Airmen can enjoy the meaning behind the holidays in the company of family and friends instead of feeling overwhelmed with gift-buying.