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Feeling that Holiday Pressure to Spend, Spend, Spend? Here’s How to Stay on Track

  • December 18, 2019
  • By: Greenpath Financial Wellness

The holidays are beautiful, magical, and dang…They can get expensive fast. Before you have even cleared the table after Thanksgiving dinner, your inbox is overflowing with urgent, high-pressure offers to buy now, or miss out of crazy savings. (For real:  according to Digital Commerce 360, the average person gets more than 18 emails a day promoting holiday deals for Black Friday. Over the course of the holiday weekend, you probably got more than 50 messages urging you to spend now.) All those “deals” can add up to holiday-induced financial stress. In a November Bankrate survey, more than 60% of people expressed anxiety about overspending during the holidays. Translation: It’s hard to stay on track financially, especially during the gift-giving season, when retailers are working overtime to get you to spend your money.

So how do you enjoy a magical holiday without overspending?

Here are some tips for staying on track:

1.  Figure out your plan

The first step our financial counselors recommend is to figure out what you can spend. Take 15 minutes to plan out your paycheck for the rest of the year. (Here’s how to get started.) We promise it will help. You can nerd out on it too, and go for a more in-depth spending plan if you want a head start on those New Years’ Resolutions. “A spending plan can be really simple,” says client advocate Maurice Turner, who works with people to help them figure out how much they have, what’s already committed to expenses and bills, and how to use what’s left to achieve their goals.

Get Started with a Spending Plan

2.  Stay strong and avoid the temptation to put it on a credit card. Your future self will thank you.

Gift-giving is not a contest to see who can rack up the most debt. (Honestly, who wants to win that contest?!) In 2018, Americans added more than $1,000 of holiday spending to their credit card tabs. More than half of them expected it to take five months or more to pay it off. At minimum payments, it could take more than five years to recover from your Christmas shopping spree. “It’s tough to forego buying someone that special something. But you don’t want to still be paying for it next July (or the next, or the next.) And the thing with credit card spending is that you wind up paying so much more for the gift once you add in interest and fees. It undoes that amazing deal pretty quickly,” says financial counselor Jeff Arevalo, who works with GreenPath clients to manage their debt with the goal of paying it off faster.

See the Difference a Lower Interest Rate can Make

3. Tune out the noise, and tune into what the season really means to you

Put a filter on that inbox, turn off the tube, log out of Facebook. All that FOMO (fear of missing out) noise is just noise. And once you turn it down, you have time to reflect on the gift you would like to give (as opposed to the one an advertiser wants you to buy!) and why it matters to you. Often a nontraditional gift can feel as special (or even more!) than another box from Amazon. For some people, this means giving homemade gifts, or making time to reconnect; for others, it means volunteering together or giving back to a cause they believe in. GreenPath Empathy Coach Maja Reed, who works with our team to communicate compassionately and without judgment, suggests asking, “What gift would express the feeling you want to share with a loved one?” Turning into what you value makes it easier to select a gift that supports what the holidays mean to you, and fits your financial needs, too.

What if ho-ho-ho turns into uh-oh?

If you are caught up in the holiday frenzy, and you are stressing about overspending, GreenPath can help. 90% of people surveyed report feeling better prepared to handle their finances after speaking with a financial counselor. Last year, we served over 200,000 households on their journey to financial wellness.

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