According to MoneyMagnify, thirty-one percent (31%) took on holiday debt last year, averaging $1,381. Unfortunately, incurring holiday debt is nothing new. For a variety of reasons—lack of financial planning, social pressure, and a focus on the material rather than spiritual aspects of Christmas—a significant percentage of Americans purchase more than they can afford during the holiday season.
For many, Black Friday and Cyber Monday launch the holiday spending season. In an attempt to entice consumers and bolster sales, retailers provide significant discounts on numerous products and services. And it works. These days are some of the greatest spending days of the year. Consumers leverage these days to help their dollars stretch further. Last year’s (2020) Cyber Monday spending hit $10.8 billion.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday can create a significant win for consumers. But if consumers are not careful, the present financial benefit of these days can lead to a future financial burden—debt. How can you take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday without regret? Here are six tips:
But if consumers are not careful, the present financial benefit of these days can lead to a future financial burden—debt.
1. Have a spending budget. Have a spending budget. Have a spending budget.
Did I mention you need a spending budget? The importance of a holiday shopping budget cannot be understated. Those who do not know their financial limitations are destined to spend more than they should. There will always be another deal that is “too good to pass up.” You need to know when to stop spending, even if it means you will miss a deal.
2. Have a list. Check it twice.
In addition to a spending budget, identify specific items for purchase in advance. Determine who you will purchase gifts for and what those gifts will be. This portion of planning helps ensure that you will not go beyond the spending budget. It also ensures that you won’t forget to buy Little Johnny a gift.
3. Consider inflation in your planning.
Recent reports revealed consumer prices jumped 6.2% compared to last year. Inflation will not only impact the cost of gifts but other areas of holiday spending—travel, food, and entertainment. Don’t assume last year’s holiday spending plan can be replicated this year. One hundred dollars will not buy as much as it did in 2020. Consider inflation in your planning.
One hundred dollars will not buy as much as it did in 2020.
4. Avoid impulse purchases.
You will be bombarded with deals. Retailers are hoping consumers buy items they originally did not intend to purchase. They want you to enter a store (or website) for a coffee maker and leave with a coffee maker and a television. Mentally prepare for impulse purchases.
5. Don’t fall for credit card offers.
In addition to discounts, retailers will push their credit cards. They will offer additional discounts that are tied to these credit cards. Don’t fall for it. While the discount is legitimate, so is the high interest rate. Retail cards are known for their high interest rate, and their benefit is usually tied only to purchases made at the specific store.
6. Remain spiritually focused, not materially focused.
During this season, we can all find ourselves consumed and stressed over purchases rather than Christ. Black Friday and Cyber Monday give you a great opportunity to stretch your dollars. If the purchases fit within a predetermined budget and plan, take advantage of these sales. But let the purchased gifts remind you of God’s gift to mankind. Let the celebration remain focused on the unfathomable gift of Jesus.