Virginia consumers are confident heading into the holiday spending season. More than 60% of Virginians believe that they will spend between $100 and $1,000 on gifts, and 16% plan on spending at least $1,000, according to a recent consumer sentiment holiday report by Roanoke College. Eighteen percent of these respondents plan to spend more than they did in previous years while holiday shopping.
Atlantic Union Bank Consumer Banking Group Executive, Shawn O’Brien, weighs in on what consumers can do to curb the financial stress during the holiday season.
“Be sure to make the time to set a budget and have a conversation about your holiday financial goals. Consider introducing non-expensive activities that still make the season merry, like baking or driving around the neighborhood to look at lights. Sticking to your budget will help you alleviate some of the financial stress that comes with the holidays and allow you to enjoy the season.”
We know that it isn’t always easy to stick to your budget and avoid holiday debt, so here are a few additional tips to help you stay on track.
- Write down your holiday budget.
This may seem like a trivial tip, but you would be surprised how writing something down versus verbally saying it will help you stick to your outlined spending. Take your budget with you while you shop and check things off while keeping a log of what you have spent.
- Avoid last year’s mistakes.
If you went over your budget last year, make a plan and outline how you can avoid the same mistakes this year. Look back at which gifts you overspent on and reassess what changes you need to make in order to stay within your budget.
- Don’t forget hidden expenses.
During the holidays you can forget small things that you may have not budgeted for such as travel, gift wrapping, decorations or that Secret Santa gift for your work holiday party. In the blur of holiday festivities, it’s easy to not include these but taking the time to add them beforehand will help your budget go further during the season.
- Think outside the (gift) box.
If you’re at a loss for gifts and running out of budget, remember that sometimes experiences and time can be just as important as a tangible gift. While these may be used to stay within your budget, they are sometimes even more meaningful.