In 2012, holiday retail sales, in the U.S., rose to about $600 billion. According to TransUnion (a leading credit monitoring company), consumers paid for more than $246 billion of those purchases on their bank credit cards, and many exceeded their holiday budget.
As of November, 2014, American consumers owed a total of $880.3 billion in credit card debt. The average U.S. household (that is carrying credit card debt) owes $15,593 and the average consumer owes between $5,000 – $7,000, depending upon the survey source and minor variables.
And here we go again. Another year going beyond the holiday budget. Maybe. There are simple rules to follow that will help to mitigate some of the pitfalls of holiday spending.
Rules for Sticking to Your Holiday Budget
The very first and most important rule to follow is to prepare a realistic holiday budget. Remember, a budget is not a punishment; it’s a promise.
Here’s are 6 rules for budgeting your holiday spending:
- Allocate a total amount of money to your holiday budget. This should include more than just presents. Don’t forget gift wrap, cards, travel, food, decorations, charity donations, etc.
- Make a list of everyone you’re considering buying gifts for this year.
- Assign a maximum amount to each person on your list, including the price of gift wrap.
- Trim your list, if necessary. Will your coworker really be offended if you don’t get her another coffee mug?
- Shop early; many stores offer deep discounts before Black Friday. Plus, when you’re not stressed for time, you’re less likely to make impulse purchases.
- Have your list with you every time you shop. No shopping off the cuff!
Holiday budgeting works. Of course, you have to follow it. But if you’re interested in curbing your spending and controlling your debt, implement these rules today.
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