There’s an easy way to avoid going into debt during the holidays — if you can stay off your phone during the shopping season.
According to a Credit Karma survey, about 22% of Americans go into debt during the holidays to buy gifts for friends and family. And nearly 70% said technology is making it easier for us to click, buy and rack up credit card debt.
Many are blaming targeted ads that pop up on our Facebook or Instagram feeds for the buying decisions they’re making as they pick out a toy for their baby nephew or a new gadget for their partner. According to the survey, 42% say that, specifically, the ads that we see based on our social media likes and interests have caused people to go into debt.
Shopping on social media, of course, doesn’t happen only during the holidays. Throughout the year, more than one-third of social media users make purchases through the platforms at least once a month, according to the survey. Of those, 30% have gone into debt because of them.
During the holidays, however, the pull to buy that necklace or skincare product on social media only grows as businesses allocate more money to social media ads and our feeds are peppered with holiday gift ideas.
So, it’s no surprise that the number of people buying gifts or other items on social media goes up. In the survey, 40% of social media users said they were more likely to scoop up an item they see advertised on one of the platforms during the holidays. More than half of millennials expected to do the same.
These quick decisions to plunk money down on something advertised on social media often leads to buyer’s remorse, according to the survey. About 64% of respondents who buy at least one thing a year on social media say those purchases are typically unplanned. And more than 82% say they usually end up regretting it.
Why is it so easy for us to make these purchases? Social media platforms make it simple. With only a few taps on a screen, we can easily check off another item on our holiday shopping to-do list.
But it goes deeper than just the ease of plunking down our money. When a friend posts about their own purchase, social media users are 28% very likely or extremely likely to buy the same item. Among respondents, 21% said they do it to “fit in” and 16% say they don’t want to be judged for not owning an item.
Other studies back up Credit Karma’s study. A Deloitte report found that consumers who use social media while shopping are four times more likely than those who don’t to spend “more or significantly more” on purchases because of their digital shopping experience.
So, what’s a shopper to do? Credit Karma offers three tips.
Plan your holiday shopping
Sit down and come up with a holiday shopping budget to determine what expenses are coming up and how much you can afford. Include everything — from the cost to throw a holiday brunch for your extended family to gifts to tickets for that Christmas light show. Make an exact list on what you plan to purchase and commit to sticking to your plan, regardless of what you see on social media. (Remember, you’re highly likely to regret that Facebook purchase.)
Put the credit card away
There’s an easy way to not rack up credit card debt during the holidays: Don’t use your credit cards. Credit Karma recommends using cash or a debit card as you make your purchases.
Stay off social media
If you don’t want to be tempted by ads on social media, the best way to avoid them is to not log in — or at least to limit your scrolling, according to Credit Karma. If you’re not seeing the ads on your feed, you won’t be persuaded to buy something you might not be able to afford — and probably isn’t on your shopping list anyway.
The team at CESI is committed to helping you make wise financial decisions and to helping you understand how to get out, and stay out of debt during the holiday season, and all year long. For a free debt analysis, contact us and find out how we can help.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. empowers people to overcome their financial challenges and lead financially-healthy lives.
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