5 Ways to Prepare Your Finances for the Holidays

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Even though September 16 marks 100 days until Christmas, Americans have already started their holiday shopping.

And according to a recent survey conducted by TopCashback.com (TopCashback), the USA’s most generous cash back site, 61 percent of Americans expect to spend more on holiday items this year because of inflation.

The survey polled a cross-section of 2,910 adults, aged 18 and over.

Jump for Joy

Are you looking forward to the holiday season?

  • Yes (80 percent)
  • No (20 percent)

How do you prepare for holiday shopping? (select all that apply)

  • Researching the best sales/prices (72 percent)
  • Creating a list of everything you need to buy (52 percent)
  • Shopping throughout the year (42 percent)
  • Budgeting/saving enough money to cover holiday spending (35 percent)
  • Pre-ordering any new items that may sell out (17 percent)

Have you already started shopping for this upcoming holiday season?

  • Will start in November (30 percent)
  • Yes, I already started but have not finished (28 percent)
  • Will start in October (17 percent)
  • Will start in September (12 percent)
  • Will start in December (Eight percent)
  • Yes, I already started and completed my holiday shopping (Five percent)

Frosty Finances

What do you overspend the most on during the holidays?

  • Gifts (61 percent)
  • Food/Beverages (19 percent)
  • Travel (10 percent)
  • Experiences [i.e. ice skating, skiing, holiday light shows, etc.] (Seven percent)
  • Holiday decorations (Three percent)

Do you plan on spending more or less than last year’s holiday season?

  • The same as last year (45 percent)
  • More (32 percent)
  • Less (23 percent)

Do you create a spending/holiday budget?

  • No (54 percent)
  • Yes (46 percent)

(if yes) Do you typically stick to your budget for the holidays?

  • Yes (73 percent)
  • No (27 percent)

To Grandmother’s house…or not?

Do you plan to travel for the holidays?

  • No (68 percent)
  • Yes (32 percent)

(if yes) How far do you plan to travel for the holidays?

  • Another state (59 percent)
  • Another city (22 percent)
  • Another country (19 percent)

(if yes) How do you plan to travel? (select all that apply)

  • By car (60 percent)
  • By plane (50 percent)
  • By bus or train (Eight percent)
  • On a cruise (Four percent)

The survey also found that nearly half of Americans (47 percent) do not feel financially prepared for the holiday season.

So whether you’re looking to get your budget in check or get started on shopping, here are five ways to prepare your finances for the holidays from Rebecca Gramuglia, consumer expert at TopCashback.

  • Create a list. The first step to getting organized this holiday season is building a list of what you’re planning to buy. This can help you avoid buying items last-minute. While the list does not need to include everything at this point in time, it’s good to get a general ballpark amount of how much you plan on spending. You can use this list to see if there are any noteworthy deals and help you determine if it’s worth buying them early on.
  • Research now and pre-order. If a new or popular gift is on your shopping list this holiday season, research to see when it is available for purchase. Buying it in advance may save you money and stress. And while pre-orders may seem like a guarantee that you’ll get the product, you’ll still want to purchase the item as soon as possible to avoid the pre-sale running out of supplies.
    • Pro-tip #1: Even if the item is not a new release, scan retailers to see who has the item in stock. If it’s a popular item, it may be on back order and may not ship until closer to the holidays.
    • Pro-tip #2: If you find an item you’re unsure about, take a look at the reviews for it. Be sure to take into account both negative and positive reviews. Oftentimes, negative reviews will clue you in on any product flaws that may be a dealbreaker for you.
  • Create a holiday fund. It’s best to start building your holiday fund as early as possible so you have ample time to contribute to it. To consistently contribute, consider adopting the 50/20/30 budgeting rule. You’ll want to spend up to 50 percent of your after-tax income on necessities, like food and utilities; 20 percent on finances, such as debt repayments and savings; and 30 percent on personal expenses like holiday shopping and decor.
  • Use money-saving tools. Regardless of when you start shopping, make sure you’re prepared to save as much money as possible. When shopping online, use a cash back site, like TopCashback, which guarantees the highest percentage of your money back on all qualifying purchases from over 7,000 retailers. To ensure you don’t miss out on any deals, install the free TopCashback Browser Extension to be notified when you’re on a site offering cash back and coupons.
  • Stack your savings. In addition to any applicable coupons or cash back offers you find online, save even more by using the right credit card when you shop. Look into the terms of your credit card’s program to determine which spending categories will earn you the most rewards or cash back, and be sure to use that card on those purchases. You can take your savings further by shopping through a cash back site, like TopCashback, where you can earn a percentage of your money back from over 7,000 retailers. 

***Courtesy of Rebecca Gramuglia, topcashback.com***

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