The holiday season is in full swing, and most Americans are ready to celebrate — and spend. According to PwC, 83 percent of U.S. consumers will spend more than $1,100 this season, up 6 percent from last year.
And Southern Nevada residents are planning on spending anywhere in the range from $533 to $701, according to a new analysis by WalletHub.
While many are gearing up for gift-buying and vacation-taking, not everyone has adequately budgeted for it. If your wallet is suffering after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there is still time to learn and pursue better money management strategies, especially during the holiday season.
For example, one easy online resource is Better Money Habits, which is available to everyone from Bank of America and provides unique online tools designed to enable financial know-how.
A few ways to be more financially savvy during this traditionally expensive time of year include:
• First things first, make a plan
• Creating a budget is key, and not just for everyone you’re shopping for. Any holiday budget should also account for gatherings you plan to host. People often forget that food and drink costs can add up, so be sure to factor those in when itemizing your budget so there aren’t any surprise expenses.
• Price check with your phone
Despite your frugal intentions, the perfect gifts are sometimes the most expensive. If you find a gift that’s over your budget, use your phone to see if you can find a better price elsewhere. Many stores will gladly match competitor prices on the spot for the sake of keeping your business. Smart tip: If you prefer to do most of your shopping online, make sure you take steps to keep your personal information secure and avoid online shopping scams.
• Don’t procrastinate
One of the surest ways to overspend is to wait until the last minute and buy all your gifts in a rush. Increased shipping costs will almost always be a factor when last-minute shopping, too. Take note of any delivery or service fees: It’s better to pay $5 for shipping a month in advance than lose $40 in overnight shipping fees on Dec. 23.
• Avoid shopping sprees
Retailers are really good at enticing people to buy. Everything from display placement to lighting and music is designed to trigger impulse purchases. Researchers have dubbed this the “shopping momentum effect,” noting we’re more likely to keep spending once we’ve gotten started. You can counteract the phenomenon by sticking to your shopping list and leaving the store for a few minutes when you’re tempted to make off-list purchases.
The holidays are a time to reflect on the year and give thanks for what we have. But they are also a time to look forward and re-evaluate your approach to financial planning to start the new year on a strong financial footing. There are resources all around you to help you find ways to make your hard work this year go even further, and hopefully, make your holidays even happier.
For more tips, information and interactive tools to help customize your budgeting, visit bettermoneyhabits.bankofamerica.com.