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How much should I spend during the holidays?


We are in the midst of the holiday season, which means holiday parties, drinks flowing, and the notorious “loosening of the [financial] belt” as credit cards swipe for said parties, dinners with friends/colleagues, and of course shopping for gifts. It’s all fun and merriment now, but reality will hit when, in January, the credit card statement arrives and you’re shocked at just how much you spent.  Don’t let this happen to you. Though each person’s financial situation is different (i.e. your current level of consumer debt, your short-term financial needs, and others), here are some things to keep in mind as you search for the perfect gifts.

  1. If you already carry credit card debt, do not add to it by purchasing gifts or spending on lavish dinners. Instead, consider making gifts for friends and relatives; they will appreciate the thoughtfulness and you can save a bundle of money…after all, the holidays aren’t really about the gifts are they?
  2. While it’s difficult to decline invitations to go out with friends, you can considerably reduce your spending by having fewer drinks and eating a smaller meal. Don’t be afraid to ask for a separate check.
  3. Consider spending only cash during the month of December so that you can actually see exactly how much you are spending.
  4. Lastly, if you must use a credit card and carry a balance, make a commitment to yourself to pay it off within 2 months to avoid high interest charges.   

For parents, managing kids’ gift expectations can be a challenge. I recently contributed to an article about just this topic; read it here. https://www.chase.com/news/112215-christmas

Remember, the holiday season is about much more than gifts. You don’t have to send yourself into debt and stress to show your loved ones you care.