Holiday shopping is in full swing.
Consumers are expected to spend around 5% more this year, with the average gift-giver shelling out $740, according to some surveys.
But being able to afford those gifts for all of your loved ones can be difficult. Especially if you have a tendency to spend on yourself while also shopping for others.
Samantha Barry, editor in chief of Glamour, has some advice that will save you holiday shopping headaches this year and prevent financial strain down the road.
The first step is to figure out how much you can actually spend, Barry says. The holidays can be pricey — between travel, parties and gift-giving, expenses can add up fast. It’s important you determine your gift budget early.
Sticking to a budget will also prevent you from making impulse purchases. Sure, it may seem like a nice gesture to splurge on a gift for a loved one, yet you need to ask yourself how much it will set you back. Will you be able to afford gifts for others and, perhaps more important, will it drive you into debt?
One way to stick to your budget is to use only cash when you are out at retail stores. Research show that credit cards encourage people to spend more. Temper your need to spend by carrying just enough cash.
While carrying cash is a great way to prevent overspending at brick-and-mortar locations, it’s simply not possible if you plan on buying gifts online. This year, for the first time ever, more shoppers will shop online that at actual stores.
Since you cannot make a purchase online with bills and coins, Barry suggests creating so-called “digital barriers.” Digital barriers are designed to create friction between the shopper and the online cart.
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For example, if you’ve already signed into a retailer’s website, log out before you add anything to the cart. This will force you to review that cart before you can check out.
Avoid social media, as well – it’s likely that you will be bombarded with ads while scrolling. You can even temporarily delete apps. And if you have your credit or debit cards added, make sure you log out of those, too.
Talk about your budget with others, as well. Barry encourages her readers to break down the taboo of talking about money.
“You may be in a different budget category from your brother, your sister, your family,” she said. “You need to be honest with them.”
Talking about your budget may even help your friends and family set up theirs.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.