As we head into the holiday season, consumers’ budget goals are going to be tested. Online, TV and print ads will abound. It seems like just about every retailer is offering great “deals” that can’t be passed up around the holidays. Couple that with the pressure to give the right gift to everyone in your family as well as your social and work circles, and it’s easy for spending to get out of hand.
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) holiday spending increased every year from 2008 through 2018. The NRF defines “holiday spending” as money spent in “the months of November and December….[that] excludes automobiles, gasoline and food services.”
Besides gifts, there’s the cost of entertaining, decorating and traveling. If you’re putting your purchases on credit cards, you may not even realize how much you’re spending until you get the bills early next year. If you already have balances on your credit cards, you could be paying a hefty interest rate on everything you buy.
There’s still plenty of time to make a holiday budget and a plan to stick to it. Here are some tips:
- Make a list of every gift and other holiday-related purchase and how much you plan to spend on each one. Strive to spend less than the amount you’ve budgeted.
- Use a budgeting app to track your spending. This will let you know how you’re doing in meeting your goal. If you spend more than you intended on one item, plan to spend less on something else.
- Shop by yourself. A holiday shopping excursion into Manhattan with friends can be a lot of fun. However, people tend to spend more when they’re with others. If you go into the city, commit to yourself that you’ll stick to your budget and focus more on admiring the window displays along Fifth Avenue.
If your credit card and other debt have already gotten out of control, it may be wise to determine what your best debt relief options are so that you can start the new year fresh. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can be a valuable source of information and guidance.