SOURCE: BMO Harris Bank

December 27, 2012 13:10 ET

BMO Harris Bank Financial Tip of the Week: New Holiday Traditions Save Time and Money

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - Dec 27, 2012) - As part of BMO Harris Bank's ongoing commitment to financial literacy and Making Money Make Sense, BMO Harris is providing weekly financial tips. This week's tip provides ideas for new holiday traditions.

The holiday season is a stressful time for many people. There are family obligations, countless parties and travel plans -- all in addition to buying dozens of gifts for loved ones. It all adds up to a lot of time, money and stress.

What if you changed things up next year and tried doing things a bit differently to make the holidays more enjoyable for your entire family?

BMO Harris Bank offers these suggestions:

Plan a destination holiday. Instead of exchanging gifts next year, why not use that money for a family vacation? Everyone will enjoy taking in new sights and feel less stressed by getting away from the daily grind. And although you may not save any money, you'll leave with priceless memories that are worth more than gifts that are quickly forgotten.

Volunteer as a group. One of the most stressful parts of the holiday season is planning a family get together. Between shopping and preparing food and cleaning and decorating your home, busy hosts are often too exhausted to enjoy their own gatherings. Next year, consider getting your family together to volunteer for a worthwhile cause, such as serving meals to the homeless at a local shelter. You'll save hours in party prep, not to mention the expense of hosting a get together. As added benefits, doing something good for your community will likely further reduce stress and set a good example for your kids about the importance of giving back.

Organize a gift exchange. Instead of buying something for everyone in your family, consider a gift exchange. Doing so will save you time and money because you won't have to brave the busy shops or shell out lots of cash for dozens of gifts. Set a price limit in advance and then have everyone pick a name. During your holiday celebration, you will get the excitement of revealing whose name you had, plus get your own surprise gift.

Enjoy a "staycation." Instead of traveling during the holidays, you may opt to stay home and get to know the place you live. Whether you call Chicago, Tucson, Kansas City or someplace else home, chances are, there are plenty of parks, museums, boutiques or other landmarks that you've never explored. This is the perfect time to get acquainted and learn what makes your hometown great. And, along the way, you'll save the money you would have spent on traveling.

Put yourself in a comfortable place and get started with helpful steps.

The Learning Center is brought to you by BMO Harris Bank, WGN, CLTV, WGN AM 1070, Chicago Tribune, RedEye and Hoy.

About BMO Harris Bank

Based in Chicago, BMO Harris Bank N.A. provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through over 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. Deposit and loan products and services provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris BankSM is a trade name used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with 1,600 branches, and a retail deposit base of approximately $180 billion.

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