Is your holiday spending out of control?(Read article summary)
Without a proper budget, the holidays can become a huge financial burden.
So, what's your plan for holiday spending this year? Do you even have a plan? Are you afraid you will overspend, yet again?
Then you are part of this year's holiday spending frenzy.
For its 2015 holiday survey, Deloitte asked more than 4,000 Americans about their upcoming holiday shopping plans and found that 75% plan to either spend the same or more than last year, with nearly 20% planning to spend more. Consumers believe that improving household finances (41%) and an expanded gift list (36%) are opening their wallets wider this year.
But even if things seem stable in your family right now, don't throw caution and dollars to the wind on holiday shopping just yet. Read on to find out how much people are planning to spend this season, and use our handy checklist to see if you're a holiday overspender.
More Than Half of Shoppers Have No Holiday Budget
Respondents to the survey were pretty sure they were going to spend more on home and holiday furnishings and clothing (not for gifts) this year, and exactly half admittedly plan to buy gifts for themselves while out holiday shopping. Add that to the 56% of all respondents with no set holiday spending budget, and holiday overspending is just waiting to happen.
Here's what consumers said they plan to spend on average in different categories this year (if nothing negative happens to their financial situation, such as a job loss or surprise expenses):
- Gifts: $487
- Socializing away from home: $348
- Entertaining at home: $212
- Non-gift clothing for family or self: $182
- Home/holiday furnishings: $124
- Other holiday spending: $110
- Total 2015 holiday spending: $1,462
So, Where's Your Holiday Spending Money Coming From?
Do you have an extra $1,462 lying around for holiday shopping? If you've saved up for it, then have at it.
But if you're carrying debt on your credit cards, are stressed from financial worries, have no emergency savings fund whatsoever, have trouble paying monthly bills on time, or have overspent in holidays past, give yourself the gift of financial peace of mind instead of more sweaters, shoes, and candles.
Because really, where is that $1,462 coming from? If you don't have it saved up in cash to use, you're already headed to holiday overspending before even leaving the house (or clicking "buy").
You Might Be a Holiday Overspender if You …
So what kind of spender are you, exactly? Read through our list below and check all that apply.
You keep track of holiday spending in your head. Odds are you won't remember with any accuracy. This practice is especially dangerous when spending with a debit card linked to available funds in your bank account, and most catastrophic when a couple is shopping with separate debit cards linked to one bank account or racking up charges on different credit cards.
You have no holiday budget. Without a spending limit in mind and cash in your wallet, you are not even trying to improve your financial situation. With a holiday shopping budget in mind, you plan to pay all your December bills on time first, making for a smarter start to the New Year.
You don't have a specific shopping list. Are you the type that just goes out to try to find something so-and-so will love? Better to think about it beforehand and determine an amount to spend for this person. If you have no idea, then cross the person off your list right now.
You never price check. If you just search for your items in a few quick places, such as Google Shopping or DealNews, you will soon find the best and cheapest place to buy every item. If you don't, you will most likely be paying more and overspending.
You include coworkers, friends, and acquaintances on your holiday shopping list. That's just too many people, and you are probably wasting money buying insignificant gifts for people who are not close to you. (Except teachers. I think your child's favorite teachers deserve a token of holiday appreciation.)
You use credit cards for holiday shopping with no plan to pay the balance before the due date. If you have already given yourself permission to use your credit cards and carry a balance, be prepared to overspend, resulting in a large debt burden through the beginning of next year.
You use credit cards that are already carrying balances. If you have made the conscious decision to shop with credit cards that already carry balances, be prepared for your credit score to drop in January and your debt to grow, making your life harder in the New Year.
You eat and drink out while holiday shopping. If you buy food and drinks at restaurants and bars while out holiday shopping, you are only adding to your holiday spending tab, without even buying presents.
You shop with friends or a group. This type of overspending is scientifically proven. In a survey of 1,000 Americans from the personal budgeting software company You Need a Budget, 64% of adults said they spend more money when they shop with friends. Ditto for store parties, where you are more relaxed and likely to pay more for an item. Do the heavy shopping alone.
You buy things for yourself while holiday shopping for others. You probably think you deserve to treat yourself. But Dave Ramsey, debt-free disciple, is famous for saying the best treat you can give yourself is financial freedom from debt.
You buy everything the week (or the night) before Christmas. If you wait until the last minute, you will be at the mercy of whatever the store is charging because you are out of time, causing you to most likely overspend for everything you buy. (This is especially true of toys!)
If you checked any one of these, then you're likely headed for holiday overspending. But the good news is hopefully you haven't overspent yet, and you still have time to cut down that shopping list and make a budget for it.
This article first appeared in DealNews.