Your Wallet's Holiday Survival Guide
November 22, 2023 by Chevron Federal Credit Union
It’s official: The holiday spending season has arrived.
Between today and when the ball finally drops on New Year’s Eve, Americans will spend a lot. The good news: nationwide, we may spend less this year than last year. According to The Conference Board Holiday Spending Survey, U.S. consumers plan to spend $985 during the 2023 holiday season — that’s less than the $1,006 average spent in 2022.
But you don’t have to bust your budget to keep up. With these tips, you can bring joy to the season and keep your budget in check.
To keep unexpected expenses from blowing your budget, start by mapping out all of your holiday ideas now. Planning out what you’ll need for each holiday — including decorations, travel costs, food, and gifts — can help you divide up your budget so that everything is covered.
Plus, by planning ahead, you’ll have more time to compare prices and get better deals.
Make a gift list
There is one caveat to getting a jump on things, though: gift buying. With more time to shop, you may find more and more gifts to buy and end up overspending.
To keep it in check, create a gift recipient list and stick to it.
Track your spending
Keep a record of your holiday expenses to stay on top of your budget. Apps or simple spreadsheets can help you track your spending in real time, allowing you to adjust if necessary and avoid any financial surprises.
Shop sales smarter
Holiday sales can be a great way to save some cash, but all those limited-time deals are also a great motivator to spend more than you intended.
Marketers use a lot of incentives to drive up retail sales during the holidays. On Black Friday, for example, many advertised deals are doorbusters or limited-time events, and there is a reason for that. Psychologists call it the scarcity principle. Essentially that means the more limited or rare we think something is, the more we think we need to buy it now.
That doesn’t mean you have to skip the sales altogether. As long as you stick to your gift list, you can stretch your budget by combining sales with other discount offers.
Most retailers allow you to stack coupons with sales for even bigger savings. And if you shop online, you can maximize your discount potential by taking advantage of cash-back apps and browser extensions that offer just that — cash back or discounts on your purchases. Simply install them, and they'll automatically apply discounts or provide money back when you shop through affiliated retailers.
We’re all feeling the pinch of rising prices this year, but we can cut some of the financial stress by working together to lower costs.
Even small moves can help stretch your budget. Carpool to company-sponsored holiday events to cut down on gas costs. Organize a Secret Santa gift exchange with your friends so you only have to buy one present, or host a BYO (Bring Your Own) New Year’s Eve event at home. With so many holidays in a row, trimming just a small amount from each event’s budget will add up.
Practice mindful giving
Focus on the thought and sentiment behind your gifts rather than their monetary value. Meaningful gifts often have a more significant impact than expensive ones, and they can contribute to a more mindful and sustainable holiday season.
By incorporating these additional tips into your holiday spending strategy, you'll be better equipped to enjoy the festive season without straining your budget. Remember, the holidays are about creating cherished moments and connections, not necessarily about the price tag on the gifts or decorations.
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