Did Americans Budget Well for Holiday Shopping in 2017?
The biggest shopping days of the year may be behind us, but there are plenty of shopping days left before Christmas. Americans still have time to spend a lot more money on holiday gifts.
How well did consumers budget for holiday shopping in 2017? Were they financially prepared, or are they now scrounging to come up with funds? Principal Financial Group just released a survey showing how well Americans have managed their money for the holidays. Surprisingly, 80% of respondents had a plan for funding their holiday shopping.
When asked “How do you plan to manage your money this upcoming holiday season?”, 53% of respondents said they were setting a budget for holiday gifts. 32% said they saved money throughout the year, and 21% planned to use their credit cards and pay them off at a later date.
If you are planning to use your credit card to pay for holiday expenses, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Create a feasible repayment plan before making any purchase. Whether you pay off the card in one month, six months or a year, you need to know what you’re committing to from the start. Can you afford to carry credit card debt for a period of time, or will that put you over your monthly budget in the future? If the answer is the latter, you may need to reconsider the cost of your purchases.
- Use the best card for each purchase. If you are going to carry credit card debt, then you should always use the card with the lowest interest rate. If you are paying for a holiday vacation, you may use a travel rewards card to save money on your trip. If you’re buying gifts, a cash back rewards card or other loyalty program may provide a better return on investment than a low-interest credit card.
- Set a budget for each purchase, person or credit card to keep your spending to a minimum.
- Don’t get caught up in sales, especially if you’re tempted to buy something for yourself on impulse. Focus on the practicality of each purchase before charging your credit card.
Compared to last year, Americans were less stressed about holiday shopping in 2017. Only 8% of respondents said they experienced “a great deal of stress,” while 52% had moderate stress and 40% reported no stress at all. With proper money management and budgeting strategies, you can find yourself in that stress-free zone as well.
About John H. Oldshue
John Oldshue is the creator of LowCards.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers credit card rate issues for LowCards.com.