How to keep your holiday spending on budget

10 holiday shopping tips for finding the perfect gift at the right price

There is such a thing as being too generous, especially during the holidays. In 2015, Americans budgeted, on average, $8301 for presents. That can be a tough bill to face in the new year. Here are some holiday spending tips to help get you through the season with your wallet in tact.

1

Value your relationships

Write down everyone you plan to give gifts to—from your nearest and dearest to your in-laws and the mail carrier. Then put a dollar figure next to each name. Setting price limits helps you keep your holiday budget on track.

2

Price check with your phone

Despite your best intentions, perfect gifts have a way of blowing your holiday budget. If you find a gift that’s over your budget, use your phone to see if you can find a better price elsewhere. Many stores have price-match policies if you find a better deal.

3

Don’t procrastinate

One of the surest ways to overspend is to wait until the last minute and buy all your gifts in a rush. Not only are you more likely to overspend, but it also makes an already stressful time of the year even more so.

4

Buy last year’s electronics

For many people, the latest and greatest features aren’t important. You’re likely to save big by gifting an older version of a device that was the latest and greatest just a few months ago.

5

Know the truth about Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Chances are, you started hearing about “doorbuster” deals back in October. But studies have shown there isn’t a huge difference in markdowns between one-day promotions, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and regular holiday sales.2 Instead of focusing on event-style sales, look for deals every day.

6

Stay on top of your spending

Spend wisely by reviewing your account statements, paying your bills regularly and using online banking to easily monitor your accounts. If you purchase using a credit card, using a card that offers cash back or other rewards is another smart holiday budgeting tip. Since you’re going to spend the money anyway, you might as well get something—whether it’s retail discounts or travel deals—in return. We put together some tips on choosing a rewards credit card.

7

Consider making gifts

Homemade presents are great ways to save money while creating something memorable. These gifts might not work for everyone on your list, but they’re good options for some. Consider photos for grandparents or cookies for your kids’ teachers.

8

Save up for expensive presents

Putting money aside for big-ticket items can prevent you from depleting your accounts or going into debt during the holidays. We’ve put together some tips on saving for a large purchase, but one of the best savings tools to use is automatic transfers, which nearly all banks offer. This can help you save without thinking about it. If you’re a Bank of America customer, you can sign up for automatic transfers and decide how much money to move from your checking account to your savings account and how often.

9

Try to avoid shopping sprees

Retailers are really good at enticing people to buy. Everything from display placement to lighting and music is designed to trigger impulse purchases. Researchers have dubbed this the “shopping momentum effect,” noting we’re more likely to keep spending once we’ve gotten started. You can counteract the phenomenon by sticking to your shopping list and leaving the store for a few minutes when you’re tempted to make off-list purchases.

10

Factor in shipping

It’s not unusual for an online item to appear cheaper than its in-store counterpart—until you add in shipping costs. Take note of any delivery or service fees, as well. Keep in mind, many retailers offer shipping coupons or free shipping days to attract customers, so do some research before you click “buy.”

  1. Gallup, 2015
  2. National Retail Federation, 2014; Boomerang Commerce, 2015
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The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial or investment advice. Bank of America and/or its affiliates, and Khan Academy, assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional when making decisions regarding your financial or investment options.

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