Will a five-year high in consumer confidence lead Americans into debt this holiday season? Learn some steps to avoid a holiday hangover.
Consumers appear to be in a merrier mood leading up to the holiday season, but brighter spirits could lead to bigger spending. Keep reading to learn steps to avoid a holiday hangover of debt .
Consumer confidence hit a five-year high in October, according to the most recent data from The Conference Board. Job market improvements were a key driver of confidence, Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators, said in a statement, and consumers also indicated they felt better about their person financial situation and the economy over the short term.
When consumer confidence goes up, consumers tend to spend more. What steps can shoppers take to avoid overdoing it over the holidays? "This is the most festive time of year, but consumers don't have to end up with a holiday hangover when the bills arrive," Gov. Frank Keating, CEO of the American Bankers Association or ABA, said in a statement. "Simple planning can make the season more care-free and enjoyable when you know you're in control of your budget."
The ABA offers the following common-sense tips to avoid a holiday hangover of debt and enjoy a financially happy and healthy New Year:
· Start with a budget: Before opening your wallet, develop a budget that you can comfortably afford. The ABA recommends calculating available cash by subtracting monthly expenses from income, and adding the remainder to money already saved for the holidays. “If you need to use your credit card think about what you can afford to pay back in January,” the ABA advises. Don’t overlook other holiday costs, including food, travel, greeting cards and charitable donations.
· Create a gift list: Try to limit gift-giving to family and close friends. Note how much you intend to spend on each person.
· Be a smart shopper: Careful comparison shopping can help you find the most competitive prices. Before buying a gift, make sure the price doesn’t exceed the amount set aside for the recipient. Give yourself plenty of time. Shopping when rushed can lead to overspending.
· Be careful with credit: Shoppers who choose to charge a purchase should use the card with the lowest interest rate. Create a plan for paying off your holiday bills within a set timeframe, and avoid applying for store credit cards just to get a one-time discount.
· Keep track of your receipts: Receipts are not only necessary for returning most items, they will also help account for your spending, monitor credit card statements and plan for next year.
Consumers can help prevent a holiday hangover by making simple gifts, such as home-baked goods, instead of buying presents, the ABA advises.