December is here, so it’s likely many of you are starting to reach for your plastic. According to a TransUnion study, consumers wait until December to shop. And then they spend nearly 40 percent more on their credit cards than in any other month. That statistic in itself creates the need for tips on how to manage holiday spending.
Seven Tips for Controlling Holiday Spending
Set a Per-Person Shopping Budget
You may have a single number in your head representing the total dollar amount for this year’s holiday spending. A single number is great, but breaking that number down to a per-person amount is even better. The more organized, the more detailed your budget, the better. Remember, this number is meaningless unless you stop spending once you’ve reached that set dollar amount.
Avoid Store Bought Gifts
Oftentimes the most memorable gifts are the ones that are homemade. And you don’t need to be an arts and crafts aficionado to create gifts. For example, olive oil that you infuse with herbs, or a pot planted with seeds you chose, shows the recipient you had them in mind specifically.
Always Use the Right Credit Card
Many stores offer their own store credit card. Oftentimes, these store cards offer incentives. Before you use any plastic, determine how the interest rates compare for the store’s credit card versus your personal credit card. Do either have cash back policies or additional sale savings?
The 2015 National Retail Federation reported, “The average Thanksgiving Weekend shopper spent $300 between Thursday and Sunday, and more than three-quarters (77%) of that amount was spent on gifts; leaving about one-quarter for self-gifting and other non-gift items.”
Avoid the temptation to use holiday spending as a catch-all allowing you to treat yourself.
Online shopping can help you get the best deals. If you choose not to order something online due to shipping costs, then use online shopping to help you compare prices at different outlets. Once you have purchased a gift for someone, cross them from your list, and never add a last-minute impulse item to that person’s gift.
Remember that not every deal is a bargain
Retailers use crafty tactics to entice buyers. They inflate original prices to make sales seem more deeply discounted. They offload lower-quality products. They market sales as “one-time-only” even if identical sale prices have circulated earlier in the year.
Once the new year arrives, it’s important to have a plan for how you’ll pay off any debt you’ve accrued from holiday spending.
Stop the Holiday Spending Excuses
A large part of holiday saving is knowing how and when to stop spending. If you have a budget, stop spending when you’ve reached it, regardless of any excuses swirling in your head. What do these excuses sound like? You know them: Oh this doesn’t cost much more and she will love it; it’s only money and he shows me so much support; you know what, she always gives me such expensive gifts, I should at least match her expenditures. Sound like you?
As wonderful as the holidays are, it’s far too easy to let your spending get completely out of hand. Your thoughts are a tricky, persistent thing which have the ability to derail your budget. Stop excuses dead in their tracks and know that your holidays will be even better if you don’t wake up with a financial hangover.