Managing Holiday Expenses

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year; but for many, the holidays can be an expensive time. From gifts to decorations to wrapping paper to special events, it’s easy to overspend and possibly even go into debt paying for all the extras.

In 2019, Forbes reported on a Gallop poll showing Americans spend an average of nearly $1,000 on holiday gifts alone during the holiday season. And 37% of those respondents expect to exceed that amount while shopping for presents.

Online shopping has sky-rocketed, particularly in 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Fortunly, a survey of around 1,000 respondents found that 60% of U.S. consumers prefer to shop for their gifts online. Purchasing from a home computer, phone or tablet, is both convenient and an easy way to compare the best deals.

However, Fortunly also found that 60% of consumers wait to buy their gifts until the week before Christmas – a time when most goods are at their most expensive.

Tips for Managing Holiday Expenses

The holidays can be a stressful time for many, starting with all the extra expenses that come with the season. It doesn’t have to feel that way, though. Follow the tips below from The Balance to reduce stress around holiday spending so you can finally enjoy the most wonderful time of the year!

  • Begin by making a list of holiday expenses – Include gifts, wrapping paper, cards, travel expenses, charitable donations, etc. Planning only for gift expenditures around the holidays and leaving out other incidentals is a common mistake when budgeting.
  • Choose and stick to a budget – Consider the amount you can spend on gifts for the holidays. Use only the money you have budgeted. Steer clear of using credit cards for gift purchases.
  • Create a shopping list – Make a list of all the people for whom you wish to buy. Have a couple items in mind for each person as you shop. Planning ahead will allow you to capitalize on big sales.
  • Track purchases – Once the holiday season is in full swing, keep detailed track of all your purchases. Bring your list and budget sheet with you each time you shop. As you purchase, subtract from your holiday budget so you can see how well you are sticking to it and if adjustments are needed.
  • Stick to a cash-only system – Using cash, as opposed to credit cards, will help reduce overspending.
  • Shop online – Time and money could be saved by shopping predominantly online. It’s easier to comparison-shop and find the best deals from behind your computer. Plus, it’s much more convenient!
  • Pick up some extras – Add a few generic gifts to your shopping list in case you receive a surprise gift or accidentally left someone off. It will prevent you from scrambling to find something last-minute and possibly overspending.
  • Take on a holiday job – Earn some extra cash for the holidays with a seasonal job.
  • Save in advance – Start saving money for holiday expenses at the beginning of each year. Consider what you spent last year and divide by 12 to come up with an easy figure to put away every month, making saving for the holidays a breeze.
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