How To Keep From Overspending This Season

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While inflation is searing hot — at 7.7% in the latest report — and prices are rising everywhere, this is not deterring American consumers from shopping this holiday season.

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Indeed, a record 166.3 million people plan on shopping through Black Friday through Cyber Monday this year, according to a National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics survey. This figure is 8 million more people than last year and is the highest estimate since NRF began tracking this data in 2017.

A whopping 69% of holiday shoppers plan to shop during Thanksgiving weekend this year, with the top reason being that the deals are too good to pass up, the survey notes.

“While there is much speculation about inflation’s impact on consumer behavior, our data tells us that this Thanksgiving holiday weekend will see robust store traffic with a record number of shoppers taking advantage of value pricing,” NRF President Matthew Shay said in a press release. “We are optimistic that retail sales will remain strong in the weeks ahead, and retailers are ready to meet consumers however they want to shop with great products at prices they want to pay.”

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While it’s easy to get caught up and overspend, the average credit card rate is now 18.77%, the highest since February 1992, said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

If you are planning to join the shopping throng, here’s how to keep from overspending.

Use Cash or Debit

Some experts recommend committing to cash or debit cards when shopping.

“Swiping a credit card may seem like a good option so that you can deal with the bill later, but debt is getting more and more expensive, so it’s a terrible time to add to your debt,” said Bobbi Rebell, author of “Launching Financial Grownups” and personal finance expert at Tally.

Rebell added that she recommends consumers assess their budgets beforehand and stick to them.

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Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Because of inflation and the ensuing soaring food prices this year, some analysts say it might be cheaper to dine out for Thanksgiving. Indeed, a new IRI report found that Thanksgiving meals will cost a whopping 13.5% more this year.

So, in terms of holiday meals, Rebell said to check and “shop” your pantry beforehand and set your menu based on deals.

Make Your Money Work for You

“Do a scan of what you already have on hand, check your freezer and pantry for things that might be hiding that you can repurpose and use. Things like chicken broth, breadcrumbs, spices/seasonings, frozen vegetables,” she said. “You likely already have a lot that you can use or maybe you’ll even find that some recipes you can make easy swaps. If your dessert calls for pecans and you have walnuts, use those instead.”

Black Friday Requires a Plan

Of course, there are Black Friday temptations. From one a day-event, Black Friday became a weeks-long holiday and it’s easily enticing to get influenced by the myriad of ads and deals. But with inflation at a four-decade high and Americans being financially hit in every corner of their life, now may be the time to proceed with caution.

“Thanksgiving weekend is one of the most popular times of the year for people to shop — Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and the list goes on,” said Gretchen Scheiman, VP of marketing at DailyPay.

Scheiman added that the weekend has been extended to last all week or, in some cases, all month. In turn, to not overspend, she recommends making a list and checking it twice.

“Not all deals are meant to be taken advantage of,” she said. “Have a priority list of people you want to shop for and stick to it.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Stick to Your Budget

She too recommends making a budget and sticking to it.

“Out of your overall monthly budget, how much can you allocate to shopping needs this month?” she asked. “Be vigilant about sticking to this amount, no matter how good the sale may be.”

Finally, “compare, compare, compare.”

“Just because something is on sale, doesn’t mean it’s the best price out there,” she said. “Do your research and check out other sellers or sites before making the purchase.”

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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