Published: Dec. 7, 2017

Keeping to a budget over the holidays can be hard. Travel, gifts, family and friend time, and other obligations can add up fast.

Before you reach for that credit card, have a plan in place to keep your spending in line with your budget. The end of the year also brings a new beginning. Get a jump on next year's budget with some tips and reminders.

Gift guide

The financial key to holiday success is gifting within your means. Set a budget that you can afford, and stick to it. Discuss trading handmade gifts with friends and family, agree to a price limit with friends and consider volunteering rather than giving gifts.

If you can get a little creative, there’s a lot you can do to save money and enjoy the holidays! If you're still stressed out, check out for a video on “How To Talk To Family & Friends About A Less Stuff-Centric Holiday.”​

Holiday stress

The holidays can be stressful. Family time and obligations add up quickly, and before you know it, the holidays are more taxing than relaxing. Have a plan in place to spend some alone time, sleep more and enjoy some fun activities for stress busting. Hitting the gym, going on a walk or playing a game with family are all free and great ways to relax after a busy semester.

End of the year check-up

The end of the year is also a good time to check in on your finances and get ready for tax season. How did you do financially in 2017? How much money did you make? How much did you save? Where did you spend your money? How much did you borrow for school? How much credit-card debt do you have?

Now is the time to look over what happened in your financial life in 2017. If you ate out too much, set some goals for grocery shopping and cooking meals. If you didn’t save, start small with a goal to save 5 percent or 10 percent of what you make. With the new year on the horizon, setting a budget for 2018 is a good resolution!

Check out the CU Money Sense Budget Tool for more help.

Preparing for taxes

Taxes are around the corner. If your taxes are complicated, you may want to hire a CPA to handle the details. If everything is straight-forward, a simple online platform may do the trick. 

Tax season tips:

  • Make sure your employer has your correct address.
  • Have some money set aside if you think you may owe.
  • Check the IRS student site for guidance on filing your return, especially if you are expecting a refund and want to file as early as possible.