Here's What the Average Consumer Will Spend on the Holidays. Can You Afford It?

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  • Consumers plan to spend less money on the holidays this year than last.
  • Even if your plans are similar, you might struggle to manage your costs.
  • It pays to consider cutting back on certain expenses, like holiday cards and extra decor, if money is tight and you don't want to land in debt.

It's not a small number by any means.

Inflation has been wreaking havoc on consumers' finances for months. And it's forcing a lot of people to rethink their holiday spending. 

In a recent survey by RetailMeNot, consumers said they plan to spend 8% less this year than they did in 2021. But that doesn't mean they won't spend a lot of money.

This year, consumers plan to plunk down an average of $725 on holiday purchases. That's down from $786 last year. But it's also a large chunk of money to be spending at a time when everything from housing to utilities to food has gotten so much more expensive.

If you're worried about affording your holiday expenses, you're no doubt in good company. And you may need to resign yourself to cutting back on certain ones if you want to avoid ending the year with a large pile of credit card debt. Here are a few adjustments to your holiday spending you may want to consider.

1. Skip the cards

It's a nice thing for people to get a holiday card in the mail. But an electronic card can achieve a similar goal at the very affordable price tag of $0. And so if there's one expense you might as well cut, it's this one, since you have an opportunity to replace it with a no-cost alternative. 

2. Go light on decor

It's lovely to walk down the streets at night and see houses adorned with shining lights. But if money is tight this year, stick to a simple but festive setup. Doing so could result in much lower utility bills

3. Make your holiday dinner a potluck affair

Hosting a meal for a dozen or so family members could get expensive, especially if you want to offer a nice array of appetizers, sides, and desserts. Rather than bear that cost all by yourself, ask everybody to chip in by bringing something that's an essential part of the meal. And also, either skip the alcohol or make it a BYOB event. Not only will that save you money, but it'll also help ensure that everyone gets to drink what they want.

4. Prioritize gift-giving

It's nice to want to shower the important people in your life with gifts during the holidays. But if you can't swing it financially, cut back. Instead of giving your kids multiple gifts, try to purchase the one item from their wish list they really want. If you can't afford to give lavish gifts to your extended family, say so. You can always replace those gifts with a little something homemade that shows you care, like cookies or a photo in an inexpensive frame.

The holidays have the potential to send a lot of people into debt this year. And you should do what you can to not be one of them. You may have to make adjustments to your plans to stay out of debt. But doing so will be worth it if it means starting off 2023 with a clean financial slate.

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