The keys to successful holiday season spending

Article written by Mary Metten, Health and Well-being Extension Educator. 
Originally published in the Kenosha News.

My email is starting to flood with a lot of eye-catching, “30 percent off,” “Free shipping,” “Pre-Black Friday” advertisements.

As I start to scroll through offers, I stop myself and think about the things I need versus what just looks fun.

Many of us experience an increase in shopping and spending at this time of year, but all our hard-earned money and spending plans cannot go out the window as we slide into a busy holiday season.

2019 holiday spending

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers say they will spend an average of $1,047.83 during the 2019 holiday season, which is a 4 percent increase from last year.

The additional spending typically comes in the form of gifts, food and candy, decorations, clothing and other non-gift purchases that take advantage of sales during the season.

Spending suggestions for the season

When you make plans for your money and seasonal purchases, it will help the stress and burden of increased spending.
The following are holiday spending tips from the American Bankers Association.

Make a list. Experts agree it helps to write down a list of all the people you plan to shop for, before you hit the stores or go online. Next to each name write what you want to buy for that person and how much you want to spend. You get a clear idea of the numbers involved and know how many gifts you need to purchase.

Shop for bargains once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, and for whom you are buying. In addition, if you are purchasing several items from the same online retailer, buying all the items together can cut down on shipping costs.

Curb impulse shopping and spending. Buy only what is on your list. If you’ve forgotten someone, add them to your holiday budget and, if necessary, adjust the amounts you spend on others so you keep the same total.

Plan for those other expenses. Give thought to how much you’ll be spending on things other than gifts. Be sure to include postage for cards and presents that need to be shipped; wrapping paper, bows, cards and other supplies; decorations; food and drink for holiday meals; and travel expenses.
Review your receipts and bills from last year. This will give you an idea of the amount you actually spent and how long it took to pay for it all.

Save your holiday receipts from this year. Either total them daily or add them up two weeks before the actual holiday. Expenses add up fast, and seeing your totals will provide you with a reality check as to how much more you can afford to spend.

Using credit during the holidays? If so, take only the credit cards you will need and limit those to as few as possible. Be sure to check your credit card statements carefully and report any unauthorized charges immediately to your financial institution or credit card company.

For a variety of other financial education topics, visit fyi.extension.wisc.edu/money.

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