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How to Cut Holiday Shopping Costs and Avoid Holiday Debt

cut holiday shopping costs

Americans will spend, on average, $805 on Christmas gifts this year, down from $942 in 2019, according to a new poll from Gallup. Nearly 30% of Americans say they plan on spending less on holiday gifts this year than last year. The drop and desire to cut holiday shopping costs is, no doubt, in large part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has sparked millions of layoffs and financial distress across the country.

Tips to Cut Holiday Shopping Costs

If you’re looking to cut holiday shopping costs and avoid holiday debt this year, here are 6 tips to help you get started.

Nix the travel

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended against travel during Thanksgiving as COVID-19 numbers rose and advised families to celebrate the holiday only with the people they live with. That means you have a great reason not to get on an airplane or take a road trip to extended family members for big gatherings. Cutting travel from your budget will go a long way toward reducing your holiday expenses.

Be real about your list

You very well may desperately want to purchase gifts for every single person in your life — from your second cousin to your children’s teachers to the neighbor down the street. But, if you’re shopping on a budget this year, it may not be realistic for you to buy something for absolutely everyone. Take a hard look at your shopping list and make sure you’re only buying gifts for the people who are most important in your life.

Think homemade

A batch of homemade cookies, a handcrafted ornament from materials you already have on hand or, simply, a note to let friends, family and neighbors know you’re thinking of them can suffice. In fact, some people may be glad to not add another pair of fuzzy slippers or scented candle to their home. Fabulessly Frugal and The Frugal Girls have dozens of inexpensive homemade Christmas gift ideas.

Watch your internet shopping

Studies have shown that we spend more when we simply swipe and buy items on our smartphones. And, during the pandemic, many of us are relying more on online shopping to avoid walking into brick-and-mortar stores. When you’re shopping on the phone, be mindful of your purchases. Avoid impulse buys. Track your spending. And watch those little expenses because they can add up.

Consider regifting

As we spent time avoiding others, the last few months have presented plenty of opportunities for us to clean out our homes. You might have found a few items you were given that you never used yourself. Or how about that shirt or sweater that you purchased last year, but still has the tags on it? Regift it.

As Jacqueline Whitmore, a business etiquette expert shared on Entrepreneur, there’s no shame in regifting as long as it’s done with aplomb. That means removing any identifying evidence, rewrapping it with fresh gift wrap or a new gift bag and making sure you don’t regift it to the person who gave it to you.

Rethink the parties, decorations

You may usually go big each year with decorating your home for an elaborate holiday party. But efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are likely squashing those party plans.

While it’s terrible news for families who love big holiday gatherings, the good news is this: After a year that was tough financially for so many, you’ll save quite a bit of money by not entertaining. Instead, bake a big batch of homemade cookies and drop them off at your loved ones’ homes.

And, as you deck your own halls, consider celebrating simply this year — using the decorations on hand and marking the season with just the people in your home, so you can cut holiday shopping costs and start 2021 without holiday debt.

If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help you make sense of all your options. ​Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.


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