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5 Holiday Spending Strategies

Planning ahead is key to reducing money stress around the holidays.

Kallee Feuz Oct 7, 2020

It seems to happen earlier each year — stores begin stocking holiday items and advertising winter holiday sales well before the first autumn leaves fall. For many consumers, that means added pressure to reach deeper into their wallets to buy holiday gifts.

More than half of Americans feel pressure to overspend during the holidays, according to the 2019 Bankrate Holiday Gifting Survey. And the pressure is especially intense for parents, who are more likely to feel the need to overspend on holiday gifts than adults without children, the survey found.

This year consumers are already dealing with above-average stress levels, so it’s particularly important to help guard your time and money — two big causes of seasonal stress — ahead of the upcoming winter holidays.

Before you get started on your holiday shopping, consider these 5 spending strategies.

Holiday spending strategy #1: Be creative

Some of the most meaningful gifts — a thoughtful letter, a photo book, or a handmade decoration — cost very little. Give of yourself by sharing something you are good at, whether that’s home repairs, cooking, cleaning or babysitting. You could also offer to teach something you do well, such as sewing or woodworking.

Holiday spending strategy #2: Plan ahead

Make a list of all the holiday-related expenses you anticipate. Don’t forget to include wrapping paper, postage, decorations, and travel and entertainment expenses associated with the holidays. These items can add up quickly.

Once you have figured out a budget, decide how much you can spend on each person on your gift list. Before you buy gifts for each person, do research to make sure you get the best price for each item.

gold gift wih red ribbon

Holiday spending strategy #3: Set limits

To avoid digging yourself into unnecessary debt, set boundaries on who you will be buying for and how much you will be spending. Perhaps you want to limit gifts to immediate family or cut back on the amount you spend this year. Don’t let previous gift giving or what others are doing dictate your budget; it should be guided instead by a realistic analysis of your financial situation and values.

Holiday spending strategy #4: Give to others

From widespread unemployment to devastating natural disasters, it’s been a tough year for many people. If your financial situation allows, consider making room for charitable giving in your holiday budget.

By starting early, you’ll have time to investigate charities and make sure your money goes to a worthy cause. Check out BBB Wise Giving AllianceCharity NavigatorCharityWatch, and GuideStar to research charitable organizations.

Holiday spending strategy #5: Shop early

The longer you wait to shop, the more money and time you will spend standing in lines and searching for the perfect, but sold-out gift. You may not yet be in the holiday shopping spirit, but shopping early provides several advantages.

  • You can comparison shop and watch for sales, which can yield significant savings.
  • You will be less prone to impulse shop. Waiting until the last minute often means paying full price or overpaying for an item out of desperation.
  • By planning ahead, you’ll also avoid paying extra for expedited shipping costs.

Even if you can’t stand to hear “Jingle Bells” before Thanksgiving and would rather think about football season than the holiday season, it’s worth spending some time planning for it. Not only will a little preparation help save you money, it will give you more time to enjoy the holidays.

Kallee Feuz is a Public Relations officer for Zions Bank.

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