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Plan Now for Holiday Spending

holiday spending, holiday shopping, budgeting

Submitted by Dena Kemmet, Extension Agent/Family and Community Wellness

Holiday shopping is in full swing and consumers still have a lot more spending to do as they check off items on their holiday wish list.

Consumers say they will spend an average of $1,007.24 during the holiday season this year, up 4.1 percent from the $967.13 they said they would spend last year, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation.

Here are 10 tips from North Dakota State University Extension to help you stay on track this holiday season:

  1. Establish a spending limit. Start by setting a spending limit, not with a list of gift receivers. Find gifts that fit in that budget and do your best not to spend more than that amount.
  2. Make a list and check it twice. After you have your total budget, make a list of everything you need to buy. List all of the people you would like to buy gifts for and all other expenses. People often overlook the extra expenses (travel money, decorations, pet boarding, food, parties, etc.) during the holidays.
  3. Shop around. Comparison shop or shop online to save. With most of the big sales - Black Friday, Super Saturday, Cyber Monday - behind us for the year, you may think you missed all the good deals. But stores will have sales for the next month. Check multiple stores to make sure you get the best deal.
  4. Track your spending. If you don’t keep track, you very likely will overspend.
  5. Avoid using credit. Do your best not to finance your holidays. If you are planning on using credit, make sure not to charge more than you can afford to pay off at the end of the month. Shop with just one card so you only have one bill at the end of the holidays.
  6. Gift exchanges. Draw names and buy for only one person instead of many. Gift exchanges are a great way for everyone to feel included and receive gifts without breaking the bank. Make sure to set a spending limit.
  7. Homemade gifts. Homemade baked goods or crafts can be a wonderful way to give something to everyone on a tight budget and may mean more to the receiver.
  8. Give the gift of an experience. Instead of gifts, start a new tradition and take a family trip.
  9. Make a large-gathering potluck. If you’re in charge of making the holiday meal this year, ask guests to pitch in and bring a dish.
  10. Avoid impulse shopping. Don’t put yourself in a position to blow your budget. Last year, 64 percent of Americans who purchased their gifts online and picked them up in the store ended up making an additional in-store purchase. Do your best to stay away from the temptation. If you order online, most retailers have free shipping to your home, and this may be the best way to curb those impulses.

Source: Carrie Johnson, NDSU Extension Service personal and family finance specialist, 701-231-8593, carrie.johnson.1@ndsu.edu

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