It’s more important than ever to develop and maintain good financial habits as we start to spend for the holidays.

Pamela Cotton with Austin Telco Federal Credit Union joined Studio 512 Stephanie Gilbert to tell us more about budgeting and the tools that can help us.

What are some quick tips to stay financially fit during the holiday?

Cotton said to create a household budget:

“Start by comparing your total income to your current expenses. Create a spreadsheet so you can clearly see how much money you bring in and how much you spend. If money is tight, use a spreadsheet to see which non-essential expenses you can cut back on so you will have enough room to spend during the holidays.”

“Austin Telco offers Money Manager, which is an online money management tool, integrated within Austin Telco’s Online Banking. It offers many tools for budgeting, account aggregation, categorization, and many more to help guide you along your way.”

What about using Credit Cards?

“Watch how you use credit cards. If you can’t pay off the balances in full each month, you are overspending. To avoid high-interest payments, try to live at or below your means and curb your credit card usage. This will not only decrease your debt but help you to qualify for lower-interest credit cards and loans.”

“Not all credit cards are created equal. Switch to a credit union credit card — they average more than two percentage points lower than bank credit card interest rates, and often have lower fees as well. Austin Telco offers an interest rate as low as (9.90%) — it’s among the lowest in the nation. We also have no annual fee.”

How can you plan for holiday spending?

“Give yourself a fixed amount to spend on gifts and other holiday expenses and stay within that amount. Keep in mind the 3 W’s: make a list of what you will need, who you will need it for, and when you will need it.”

“Start by saving up earlier in the year. We have great share certificate options with high dividend rates. You can set the term anywhere between six months to five years.”

“We also offer a Money Market, which is a more liquid account that offers a higher yield on your savings. So you earn additional dividends on the funds that you’re saving up for your holiday spending.”

“Lastly, think about how you will replenish your savings after the holidays.”

To learn more about the Austin Telco Money Manager or any of their other online tools to help you budget for the holidays and all year long, go to ATFCU.org.

This segment is paid for by Austin Telco Federal Credit Union and is intended as an advertisement. Opinions expressed by the guest(s) on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.