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Controlling Your Holiday Spending

In a year where everything is different, make sure you remain mindful about your spending this holiday season.


Most years it feels like just as you’re finishing up your Thanksgiving meal, you turn around and it’s late December, and you haven’t gotten everything checked off your holiday to-do list. It’s easy to get swept up or sidetracked this time of year – especially in 2020, when routines and priorities may have changed (sometimes drastically), and time seems more elusive than ever.

But this year, it’s important to make sure you’re not overcompensating for a difficult year and spending way beyond your means. Jack Kleinhenz, a National Retail Federation (NRF) Chief Economist commented on this year’s holiday spending, “Consumers have experienced a difficult year but will likely spend more than anyone would have expected just a few months ago. After all they’ve been through, we think there’s going to be a psychological factor that they owe it to themselves and their families to have a better-than-normal holiday. There are risks to the economy if the virus continues to spread, but as long as consumers remain confident and upbeat, they will spend for the holiday season.” 

It’s understandable to want to make up for what has been an incredibly trying year. Attempting to remain present, and setting some minutes aside to plan your holiday spending, could end up saving you a lot of money, while still making the holidays meaningful for you and your loved ones. Here are some ways to keep the holidays from eating up all your extra cash.

Stop Shopping Inside Stores

Going into that mall? Well, first of all, please don’t – for your own safety as well as others’ this year. But besides that, a fact is that once you walk into a store, you’re on the marketer’s turf now. Take Target as a prime example: You run in wanting to buy some toilet paper (if there’s any in stock?) and walk out pushing an entire cart’s worth of items. Know that you will be tempted to buy things once you’re at a physical store because you’ve already made the herculean effort to get yourself there – you’ve put on pants and gotten yourself out of the house, spent time and gas money, and now, if you don’t leave with that sweater (that you don’t really think is that great, but still could be good for Mom) then your day is wasted.  Solution? Browse online first. There’s never been a better year for it. Online browsing makes it easy to brainstorm ideas for people on your list. Once you get an idea and know the types of things you’re looking for then you can either buy online or, if you need them fast, you can schedule time to retrieve those particular items. Check with the retailer, ordering ahead and arranging for curbside pickup will save you time, and keep you safe from wandering the aisles. 

Make a List, Check it Twice

It’s hard to know when you’ve gotten enough. You bought your brother that cookbook, but he really should have some cooking tools to go with it. And, maybe if he had an apron he’d feel more professional…

It feels good to get things for people and it feels good to lay down your card when you don’t have a real dollar amount tied to any one person. But the credit card statement is coming at the beginning of January and you’re going to realize you just bought your brother a designer kitchen and can’t pay for it. Solution? Make a budget and a list. Know how much you want to spend for each person on your list of people and then, stick to it. You’ll be thankful when the bill arrives.  

Use Coupons

Go add Honey to your online shopping cart right now. It’s a free online coupon provider and you’ll be happy you did. They search the internet for the best prices, and find coupon codes for 30,000+ retailer sites. Also check out websites like RetailMeNot to find more steals. Every little bit helps!

Use Your Debit card

If you’re having trust issues with your One-Click-Buy pressing finger when shopping online, it may be best to tie your purchases to your debit card. While using a credit card that gives you rewards points may be tempting, it also makes it very easy to spiral out of control. When you use your debit card, or take out cash prior to a shopping trip, it’s harder to avoid your current account balance – and helps keep your spending in check. This way you’ll also avoid a nasty credit card statement in January.

Start Early or Set Expectations

If you’re able to plan ahead, then you can find the deals and sales for the people you’re looking for. However, this is a year of record mailing and package sending because there are less physical gatherings. Give yourself a break and don’t let things like expected arrival dates trip you up. Skip the express shipping if you haven’t gotten the chance to find the perfect gift yet. NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, will increase between 20 percent and 30 percent in 2020. That’s a lot of mail! The postal service is going to be busier than usual this year, and your gifts may not arrive when you want them to anyway. Save money spent on rush fees – people are expecting things to be a little different this year, and your gift will be just as appreciated whenever it arrives