The holiday season is fast approaching and with it come the feasting, festivities, and financial obligations many of us have come to dread. According to Gallup, Americans will spend an average of $830 this year on gift giving. This figure will increase if you’re a parent: playing Santa can cost between $400 to $500 per kid. So, unless you happen to have a significant amount socked away for just this purpose, your holiday shopping sprees could garner you holiday debt come January.
But by following these six tips, you may still be able to enjoy the season, while ensuring your credit card debt doesn’t get out of hand.
1. Make a Spending Plan
Take a hard look at your finances and figure out realistically how much you’ll be able to set aside for holiday shopping. Then, draw up your list and figure out your budget. The key is to stick with the plan. If you don’t start out with a firm idea of how much you’re able to spend on each person, it’s easy to get sucked into impulse buying.
2. Set Money Aside
With the multitude of savings apps now available, there’s never been an easier time to put money away. These apps encourage and track your savings and range from simple piggybank-like features that allow you to put small amounts away regularly to more sophisticated versions that let you trade stocks as well.
3. Start Early
The benefits to getting a jump on your holiday shopping are many. You can spread out the total expense and effort over multiple months, and chances are, if you’re more relaxed about the whole endeavor, you’ll make better choices and stay within your budget more easily. (Remember that budget?)
4. Shop Online
Shopping online offers many advantages, but the top perk is being able to compare prices to make sure you get the best deal. If you fail to complete your holiday shopping early, there’s always Cyber Monday. You’ll be in good company as, according to Netmarketer, online sales will increase by 16.6% this year.
5. Use Caution With Cards
If you do go the credit card route, charge only what you know you can pay off the following month to avoid interest fees. For example, a holiday bill of $1,000 becomes $1,190 when you factor in an interest rate of 19%. This could take you months to pay off. Wouldn’t you rather put that money toward a summer vacation than still be paying off holidays come July?
6. Take Cash Only
If you prefer shopping in the real world, consider leaving your cards at home to avoid the urge to overspend. To score some serious bargains, wait for Black Friday. The 2016 average price reduction on goods over the four-day day period following Thanksgiving was a whopping 44%.
If you’re already concerned about your credit card debt situation right now and worried the holidays will only make it worse, you may want to consider taking more proactive measures to begin tackling your debt. Learn more about how the Freedom Debt Relief program works and whether it could be the right solution for you. Even if you enroll in our program today, you won’t be able to get rid of all your debt by the time the holidays hit, but at least you can know you are doing something to make your debt situation better.