• Holiday food and drink, including at-home celebrations and going out.
• Travel, if you are going visiting, can involve plane tickets, getting to the airport, car rentals, parking, hotels, pet boarding, and more.
• Other expenses need budgeting too, such as your annual Nutcracker tickets or charity donations.
Assign dollar amounts to each expense, total the figures, and determine how much of that you can reasonably spend based on your income, any money you’ve saved for the holidays, and any options you have to supplement your funds.
• Pressure to keep up with others plays a big role in shoppers’ overspending. People tend to go $800 over budget, on average, to match what others are spending on them.
• Close to two-thirds of shoppers are planners: 64% of people save in advance for their holiday shopping, and the same percentage creates a budget in order to manage their holiday spending.
• How early do people begin their holiday shopping? 21% of people start near Halloween, 31% start near Thanksgiving, and 19% start in early December. Nearly 15%, however, cross gifts off their lists all year round.
With people paying out four figures on gifts — not to mention the $2,574 that holiday travelers spend, on average — it’s easy to see how many carry debt into the New Year. Budgeting wisely ahead of time, however, and then sticking to your plan can help keep your finances on track during the most wonderful time of the year.
• Shop early. Stockpile gifts when items go on sale. Being an early bird will also help you avoid elevated prices for scarce, in-demand items as the holiday season kicks in.
• Comparison shop. The holidays are a competitive time, and by spending a few minutes online, you may find great deals, coupons, and other ways to save.
• Remind yourself that it really is the thought that counts. A small gift card to a favorite cafe or homemade cookies can be as meaningful as dropping much more money at a boutique.
• Check in with your money often as you move through the season. Your bank may offer tools that make it easy to see how your spending is tracking.
Track your spending; You may benefit from budgeting tools, setting spending limits, and receiving alerts if you get close to them. Your bank may have features that can help with this, such as SoFi Insights3.
Automate your savings to accumulate funds for your holiday spending. This can help you avoid or minimize credit debt. For instance, you might try SoFi Vaults, which allows you to set up different savings Vaults (say, one for gifts, one for travel) and then have funds automatically transferred there from checking. You determine the amount and frequency.
Paying off credit card debt can be a challenge. Eliminating it with a personal loan, like a SoFi Personal Loan, could help4. Personal loans can offer a lower interest rate, which in turn can benefit your finances and relieve some holiday money stress.