The holiday season is widely recognized as a time for over-consuming, over-spending, and spoiling loved ones. All the latest tech gadgets and trends are hard to resist. Inevitably, you buy those things. And before you know it, those purchases add up and you’re in over your head with bills.
It’s easy to get carried away with holiday excitement, but it can become problematic if you can’t afford all the items in your shopping cart. In fact, the average American racked up over $1,000 during last year’s holiday shopping season. Not to mention, 15% of those same adults said they are still paying off that accrued debt from 2017.*
Here are a few helpful tips to avoid becoming financially stressed and maintain a healthy budget this holiday season:
- Make a budget. Take the time to map out the things you want to buy this holiday. With tools like online banking and financial management software, you can learn more about your spending habits, discover opportunities to save, and ultimately keep you on budget. In turn, you can find ways to curb your spending and reduce the likelihood of debt.
- Stick to your list. You made your list and you checked it twice. Your purchases should only include the people you need to shop for and the items within your budget. Make sure to purchase those items first before getting carried away with other deals.
- Watch your spending. When you’re shopping and make charges to your credit card, make sure you’ll eventually pay off the purchase in full. You don’t want to put charges on your credit card and risk a hefty bill you can’t pay off. Consider using mobile banking to track your spending right at your fingertips.
- Consider dipping into your savings. If you do happen to spend more than you anticipated, it’s better to pay a bill in full to maintain good financial standing. Not to mention, it can improve your credit score. But of course, you don’t want to take too much out of your savings account. Be sure to leave yourself with enough of an emergency fund.
- Spread the love. Consider doing acts of kindness that don’t require you to spend a lot of money. Frequently, these types of gifts are more meaningful and bring the biggest smiles. Plus, they can make you feel good in return.
- Wait until after the holidays to buy decorations. While it’s fun to deck the halls in holiday decor, it might be worth waiting until after the holiday season to stock up for next year. Many department stores roll back prices on holiday items the last week of December.
- Plan ahead for next year. Consider opening a Christmas savings account or a short-term certificate. These can help you save up, just in time for next year!
Stress levels rise, and bank accounts shrink all to find those perfect gifts for everyone on your list. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can buy all the gifts you need this holiday season, including a few splurges for yourself, but it’s important to be mindful of your spending. By following these tips, you can have all the holiday cheer without breaking the bank.
* The Motley Fool Here's How Much Holiday Debt the Average American Just Racked Up