The holiday season can be a magical time. It can also be an expensive time. Between tinsel, parties, gifts and the impact of inflation, the holidays could produce a substantial financial setback if you aren’t careful.
Last year, according to a post-holiday survey by WalletHub, 30% of Americans said they overspent during the holiday season. Additionally, a second survey by LendingTree found that roughly one-third of shoppers went more than $1,000 into debt last gift-giving season1.
If you’re looking for some ways to instill financial discipline into your holiday spending plan, consider these five suggestions:
- Establish a spending limit. While budgeting may not be the most exciting activity on your holiday bucket list, it is a vital component of keeping your finances on track. With that in mind, before the holiday season is in full swing, sit down and figure out exactly how much you can afford to spend for gifts, parties and the like. Then stick to that limit.
- Think outside the (gift) box. One of the best ways to stay within a holiday budget is to avoid giving big-ticket gift items and instead opt for presents that are thoughtful but inexpensive. For instance, why not give a loved one a framed photo of a special memory involving the two of you? Or maybe a gift of your time, such as offering to baby-sit for a friend or do housework for an elderly relative?
- Choose your payment method wisely. Another way to avoid holiday debt is to pay cash for gifts. Withdraw the amount of money you have budgeted for holiday purchases, and when it’s gone, you’re done spending. If you’re an online shopper and that’s not realistic, be selective in choosing a card to pay for purchases. For instance, a debit card will limit you to spending no more than the money in your checking account. And if you want to use a credit card, choose the one with the lowest interest rate.
- Save with your online savvy. Holiday shoppers can save by using a variety of helpful apps. For example, you can use apps like RetailMeNot, Honey and Rakuten to get cash-back deals and discounts automatically when you shop online.2
- Hold off making holiday purchases until National Free Shipping Day. Each year organizers of this national holiday pick a day in mid-December on which more than 1,000 participating online merchants will provide free shipping on purchases. This year the money-saving event is December 14. Visit the Free Shipping Day website to see the complete list of participating retailers.
The truth is, the holidays can be expensive. But if you stay disciplined and employ some of these strategies, you can give thoughtful gifts to those you love, have a wonderful time while celebrating the season, and avoid any financial hangover.
Looking for more money management tips to get your finances in order? Visit Hancock Whitney Financial Cents for Adults.
1 “Americans Overspent During the Holidays Increasing Credit Card Debt,” January 6, 2022. https://www.cnbc.com/2022/01/06/americans-overspent-during-the-holidays-increasing-credit-card-debt.html
2 “10 ways to save money during the holidays,” Dec. 6, 2021. https://www.bankrate.com/banking/savings/ways-to-save-during-holidays/