While the holidays can be a magical time for children, adults face a plethora of extra expenses. Gifts, food, decorations, the perfect outfit for that holiday party, or airfare to visit family – there’s no denying the holidays can put a dent in the wallet.
According to a 2016 Mid-Year Consumer Survey by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA), 15 percent of respondents spend more than $1,000 on holiday expenses, 29 percent spend between $500 and $1,000 and 28 percent spend between $300 and $500.
The average American spent $734 on gifts, $120 on food, $78 on decorations, and $85 on flowers and cards during the 2015 holiday season, according to AOL Mass Media.
Traveling can be another major expense during November and December. AAA reports that due to low gas prices, 41.9 million people took a road trip last Thanksgiving. Another 36.1 million journeyed by plane. According to the National Retail Federation, the average person travels 275 miles for Christmas. Thirty-two percent of GCUA survey respondents said they plan to trek more than 100 miles this holiday season.
Cutting costs may be necessary to stay financially afloat during the holidays for 24 percent of GCUA survey respondents who said they don’t plan ahead for expenses. Eight percent said they start planning less than a month in advance and 22 percent said they start planning one-to-three months in advance.
Tips to cut costs and save for the holidays:
- Rewards cards – If you don’t have a rewards credit card, check with a credit union in your area about offerings. Rewards cards give you points you can use like cash on merchandise, travel and big-ticket items like electronics and furniture.
- Holiday Club Account – Consider enrolling in a Holiday Club account to start saving for next year’s holiday expenses. It’s basically a savings account that you stash money in all year — and have limited access to until the holiday season rolls around.
- Bargain shop – Check online sites such as slickdeals.net, Woot! And Brad’sDeals to search for the best bargains. If you haven’t signed up for Amazon Prime yet, it’s worth it just for the free shipping – especially if you do a lot of online shopping for the holidays.
- Shop early – Shopping in advance of the holiday season spreads out the expense. Spending a small amount on gifts each month – for several months – is a good way to avoid putting a large chunk of debt on a credit card at one time.
- To learn about credit unions in your community and how they can help you save for the holidays, visit A Smarter Choice.
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