26% of Americans Plan to Increase Their Holiday Spending. Here's How to Do So Without Landing in Debt

by Maurie Backman | Published on Nov. 20, 2021

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A happy family walking into a home with wrapped gifts.

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These tips can help you cover your spending this holiday season.


Key points

  • A new survey reveals that roughly a quarter of Americans intend to spend more on this year's holidays.
  • A few steps, like setting a budget and earning some extra cash, can let you increase your spending without racking up debt.

Last year, many consumers took a more conservative approach to holiday spending, and understandably so. At the time, the economy was in a much darker place than it is today and unemployment was still rampant. Plus, health-related concerns may have kept some people from seeing loved ones -- and from spending more money on gifts and celebrations.

This year, consumers may be eager to get back into the holiday spirit, and for some, that could mean increasing their spending budgets. In a recent Discover survey, 26% of respondents said they expect to spend more money on the holidays this year than they did in 2020. That sentiment is especially strong among younger generations, with 44% of Generation Z and 33% of millennials saying they'll increase their spending this year.

If you're planning to spend more during the 2021 holiday season than you have in the past, it's important to do so without racking up debt in the process. Here's how to pull that off.

1. Set a budget ahead of time

Establishing a holiday budget could help ensure that you don't wind up with debt on your hands as your spending increases. Take a look at the money you have available in savings coupled with leftover funds in your upcoming paychecks. From there, figure out the maximum you can spend without being forced to carry a balance on your credit cards.

2. Cut back on non-holiday expenses

The holidays don't last forever, and after what may have been a bleak 2020 holiday season, you may be eager to go all out this year. If you want to spend more and avoid debt, you may need to cut back on other expenses to make that possible.

Examine your recurring bills and see if there are any you can slash temporarily. You may decide that it's worth it to not order takeout twice a week and instead divert those funds to gifts and holiday decor.

3. Boost your income with a side hustle

The holidays are a popular time to shop, and that means many retailers need seasonal help to keep up with consumer demand. If you want the flexibility to spend more money on the holidays this year, it pays to see what seasonal job openings are available in your neighborhood. If you're able to pick up some evening or weekend shifts, you can use your extra earnings to boost your bank account -- and make the holidays more special.

The holidays are also a popular time for travel. If you live near an airport, you might do well working for a local taxi service or signing up to drive for a ride-hailing company like Uber or Lyft.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to make this year's holiday season as magical as possible -- even if that means spending more money in the process. The key, however, is to avoid winding up in debt. If you establish a budget, cut back on some existing bills, and boost your income, you could put yourself in a great position to celebrate the holidays the way you want without any negative financial consequences.

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