With the holiday season in full swing, the last weeks of 2016 are booking up with celebratory gatherings, festive errands and cheerful traditions – each with their own price tag.
The National Retail Federation estimates consumers will spend an average of $935.58 this holiday season, with many spending much more.
- $588.90 on gifts for others – $406 for family, $76.83 for friends and $24.75 for coworkers.
- $207.07 on food, decorations, greeting cards and other holiday trappings.
- And $139.61 on themselves – up 4 percent from last year.
According to a report from the Federal Reserve, nearly half of Americans cannot cover a $400 emergency expense without borrowing money or selling something. And yet, the average holiday spend is projected to be more than double that amount.
Perhaps it’s no surprise then that 26 percent of Americans expect to rack up debt this holiday season, and 66 percent of them expect they’ll need three months or more to pay it off.
Paying the Holiday Bills
For those consumers who end up relying on high interest debt to cover their high holiday costs, the financial stress of the season can linger well into the New Year…but it doesn’t have to.
To start, consumers can proactively hack their Christmas costs by setting a holiday budget and prioritizing their spending within those means.
Simply knowing how much is available to spread the Christmas cheer can help consumers realize which tradeoffs are worthwhile. For example, opting out of workplace Secret Santa to afford the flight home (without resorting to three-months of high-interest debt to pay off).
For those who still find themselves with managing a hefty holiday tab come the New Year however, alternatives like debt consolidation through personal loans can help relieve the burden of high interest debt, and ultimately, lower the final cost of Christmas.
Rather than spending the first quarter of 2017 struggling to keep up with payments on various high interest debts, consolidation can help consumers facing the post-holiday spending hangover get organized and start focusing on more exciting things, like building up savings for next year!