Tis the Season for Savings

The holiday season is without a doubt the most wonderful time of the year…and also the most expensive.  Whether you’re trying to be the spookiest mansion on the hill or the brightest winter wonderland, holiday expenses can take a toll on your wallet!  However, making simple changes and conscious choices to your holiday lifestyle can cut your budget in half and extend your holiday fun!


Start a Holiday Fund
You don’t have to wait for the temperature to drop in order to start saving.  You can start as soon as you ring in the new year.  If you’re having a hard time remembering to set money aside, open up a holiday savings account!  Here at Hawaiian Financial FCU, you can open a Christmas Savings account with as little as $5 to help you put money away for the holidays.  Sign up for direct deposit to have funds automatically moved from your paycheck to your Christmas account every month.  Even just $20 a paycheck could have you saving a few hundred dollars for the holidays.  Your funds will be released to your checking or savings account on October 1st, giving you lots of time to plan for Halloween through Christmas!


Set Your Time
Like daylight saving time, your clocks aren’t the only things you should be adjusting during the winter.  One major part of Christmas are the bright lights and decorations.  Keeping these lights on for the season can really cause your electricity to hike for the month.  To combat these unnecessary overages, you can purchase a light timer to set your lights to turn on and off at designated times.  These timers are very affordable and you can buy them at your local hardware store.  Some Christmas lights even come with a built-in timer!  Setting your lights to shine from 7pm through midnight, as opposed to running all night and day, can make a big difference in your electricity bill.  Even better, purchase energy-efficient alternatives to save even more on your electricity!


Christmas All Year Round
As mentioned previously, you can start planning for the holidays as early as you want!  Although you can find great deals and steals during Black Friday and Christmas sales, there are great sales all throughout the year too!  Spread your holiday shopping out through the year so you won’t feel so financially burdened by the time Christmas comes around.  Here’s another great tip—don’t forget to check out the after holiday sales.  Wrapping paper, ornaments, even fake Christmas trees will be significantly marked down during the days after Christmas.  Taking advantage of these mark-downs can help lighten your financial load for the next Christmas.


Be Creative
Spending money doesn’t have to make or break your holiday.  Tis the season to be creative.  Can you MacGuyver a cinderblock into a Halloween tombstone?  Is there anything that you can use from your personal garden to spice up your Thanksgiving dinner?  Perhaps you can throw lights on the palm tree in your yard instead of buying a pricey Noble Fir.  Utilizing your talents to benefit others is a gift in itself.  Chocolate chip cookies and other homemade desserts are always a welcome Holiday treat.  A hand-crafted album of memories is enough to make any mother cry tears of joy.  You can’t put a price on gifts from the heart.


As we near the holiday season, keep in mind that it’s never too early to start preparing financially.  Simple changes can make a big difference.  What other ways can you save during the holidays?

Keeping Your Identity Safe During Holiday Travel

Luggage consisting of large suitcases and rucksacks isolated on white.So the bags are packed and the doors are locked as you head out for the big trip, but aren’t you forgetting something? Identity theft predators thrive off of holiday travelers. Here are six basic tips to ensure you don’t fall victim to identity theft while on the road this winter.

  1. Keep your home safe. As tempting as it may be to rub a vacation in the neighbors’ faces, avoid announcing your vacation on social media. Your home could be targeted for burglary, leaving your identity vulnerable. Hide laptops and important documents within the home, just in case of a break-in.
  1. Use secured Wi-Fi. Avoid logging on to your bank account or other sites with sensitive information while using unsecured public Wi-Fi in hotels, cafes, airports and other locations.
  1. Use ATMs only at financial service centers. Other ATMs are more vulnerable to tampering. Be wary of restaurants where waiters could have portable skimmers.
  1. Bring the right card. Use a card with enhanced security, such as Hawaiian Tel Federal Credit Union’s advanced security ATM/debit cards. You’ll receive text alerts of any unusual or suspicious purchases so you can verify them. Just make sure to alert your financial institution before traveling internationally, so that using your card in unusual places doesn’t trigger a freeze on your account. It’s also a good idea to leave unnecessary cards at home, such as other debit cards and library cards.
  1. Dispose of documents properly. Rip up any papers with personal information that you’re no longer using. This means tearing up used boarding passes with full names or other personal information on them.
  1. Lock it down. Make sure your smartphone has a lock on it and is password protected. It’s a good idea to install a GPS-locator app that helps you find the phone in case it’s lost or stolen.

Cait Klein, NerdWallet

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