The holidays always seem to creep up out of nowhere, which can leave you feeling stressed and over budget if you don’t prepare ahead. And, even though U.S. consumers are feeling financially strained as a result of the pandemic, people are planning to spend more to make this holiday season even more special.
According to the 2020 Holiday Consumer Shopping study from Roku and in partnership with The Harris Poll, 7 in 10 Americans plan to spend the same or more on gifts this year. Overall, consumers expect to spend an average of $885 on holiday purchases, up approximately 2.5 percent from 2019. Meanwhile, nearly one-third of shoppers report that they plan to buy more gifts for more loved ones this year because of sheltering in place rules that will keep them from visiting with family and friends.
Though the sentiment of giving is heart-felt, you shouldn’t let it send you into debt. Follow these 3 simple steps now to budget proof your holiday shopping.
Map out a holiday spending plan.
Setting a holiday budget and tracking purchases is crucial to avoid debt. The problem with budgeting though is trying to predict all those unexpected expenses that come up beyond just gifts or travel. To get a better idea of where your money typically goes over the holidays, look over your bank and credit card statements last year to determine which categories you will spend on this year. If your budget is maxed out, look for a couple of expenses you can cut now leading up to Christmas to free up some money for gifts or other seasonal purchases. Otherwise, set gift expectations with loved ones ahead of the holidays for scaling back on giving to alleviate some of this pressure.
Maximize credit card rewards.
If you don’t have a credit card that offers cashback, now is a good time to sign up. Many credit card companies offer bonus rewards to new cardmembers who meet a minimum spending threshold in the first few months and this free money can go toward gift purchases. Review credit card offers at sites like CardRates.com where you can quickly compare details to pinpoint which card will work best for you. Don’t forget, some credit cards will offer bonus cashback deals when shopping at certain retailers or dining at specific restaurants, and reviewing these offers ahead of the season can help you map out shopping strategies that helps you maximize reward earnings.
Cash in on clutter.
Cutting back on a purchase here and there may not give you enough room in your budget to cover all those seasonal costs. You don’t have to sacrifice though. Instead, spending time looking around your home for items you no longer need or use as this is a great time to cash in on clutter. Sell gently worn clothing on sites like Tradesy or Poshmark, get cash for your old phone at sites like Gazelle or Declutter and unload home goods like kitchen gadgets, furniture and decor through Facebook Marketplace or OfferUp, which make it easy to sell locally without the hassle of shipping. Just make sure you put your extra cash into a separate saving account for your holiday shopping needs.