Holiday travel is likely to look very different for a lot of people this year, due to restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that travel of any kind increases risks of acquiring the virus through the air or contact with surfaces. This includes air travel, buses and trains, and even driving if you are stopping at public rest stops or bathrooms. And going home often means visiting with elderly relatives who are in a higher risk group, as well.
For those who will be putting safety ahead of their usual holiday travel, this will likely result in significant savings on plane tickets, hotel fees and even meals. That extra cash doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket, though. Here are eight ways to put your money to use in fun and meaningful ways this holiday season.
Last updated: Nov. 13, 2020
You work hard, you’ve been suffering through a pandemic, why not take your saved cash and treat yourself to something nice? Whether it’s an experience that makes you feel good, or something you’ve coveted for your home or a special person, there are ways big and small to indulge in you. So long as you don’t start treating yourself so often that you feel a pinch in your budget, you deserve it.
Donate To a Good Cause
If you’re fortunate enough to have extra money you don’t have an immediate burning need for, remember that there are endless charities that can use your funds. The Charities Aid Foundation points out that there are many personal benefits to donating, such as helping you feel positive, strengthening your values and encouraging generosity in others. And, you can receive a tax write-off by donating to most nonprofit organizations, as well.
Put It in Savings
Savings are important for so many reasons — they can give you peace of mind should any unexpected financial hardship arise and allow you to build toward future goals. Eric Roberge, a certified financial planner and founder of Beyond Your Hammock, told Discover.com, “When you have money available in the bank you can do what you want without stress.” He said this creates a kind of mental freedom that is priceless.
Investing means you put your money into stocks and funds that are traded on the stock market. These have a chance of reaping higher dividends than the interest on a savings account. If you already have a savings account, consider putting your extra cash into an investment account for longer-term goals, as it can take some time for investments to really pay off.
Splurge On Holiday Decorations
Winter can be a tough time with less daylight and colder weather, especially now with pandemic-related restrictions. Holiday decorations can bring joy and color to your life for not much money. Maybe this is the year you add a second strand of lights to your house or buy that fancy holiday dishware. Whatever it is, you won’t be disappointed by brightening up the holiday season. In fact, people who decorate for Christmas earlier report being happier, psychologist Steve McKeown told UNILAD. The same likely applies for Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, too.
Pay Off Debts
Americans are drowning in debt to the tune of $1 trillion. Debts hold you back, and often cost you additional money in the form of interest. Better to pay them off quickly so you can begin to save for all the fun things you’d like to do down the road. Saving a few hundred dollars every time you have it will add up quickly.
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Contribute To a Retirement Account
For folks 40 and younger, retirement can seem a long way off, and thus, so can saving for it. But you can’t ever put too much money away for retirement. If you’ve saved some cash by not traveling, give your future self a holiday gift, and stick it into your 401(k) or another retirement account.
Create an Emergency Fund
Life can throw plenty of curveballs at you. Thus, financial experts recommend that you have a three- to six-month emergency fund to get you through unexpected times, such as a job layoff or unplanned expense. Those extra bucks can go a long way toward building that backup fund and your future self will thank you for your thoughtfulness today.
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