‘Tis the season for Christmas stockings, trees, lights, cookies, presents and more. And by more we mean a whole lot of money. Of course the holiday season is all about spending time with loved ones, but we can’t deny that it’s also a season for spending.
According to Shopify, December is projected to exceed $65 billion in holiday shopping sales. And that’s just for the presents. Beyond buying special gifts for loved ones, there are other costs that can add up during the Christmas season. Here are seven Christmas spending stats to keep in mind this month.
According to research from advertising technology company OpenX, millennials expect to spend an average of $861 this holiday season. According to the same study, 41 percent of millennials say they’ll spend more than last year, too. If you think that sounds like a lot, think again. OpenX found that the average consumer expects to spend $819 this holiday season.
Ways To Save: Use apps like Santa’s Bag to track all of your holiday spending. You can set a budget for yourself and with an overall number in mind, you’ll be more likely to stick to it. Other apps like Ibotta and Paribus can help you get cash back on things you buy or items that drop in price after you’ve purchased them.
Pro Tip 1: Save even more by signing up for the right credit card before making all of your holiday purchases. According to Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards by LendingTree, the Amazon Rewards Credit Card is one of the best for this season. Schulz told Swirled that when you sign up for the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card, you’ll instantly get a $70 credit to your Amazon account. That’s extra money that you can use toward gifts this year.
Pro Tip 2: Don’t fall into the trap of paying someone to gift wrap. Mark Hamrick, Washington bureau chief and senior economic analyst at Bankrate, told Swirled that paying for wrapping can really escalate the amount of money you spend. It could be an additional $10 per gift you weren’t budgeting for. Stick to the old-fashioned hand-wrapped gifts, or opt for gift bags that you recycle from last year.
If you bought your Christmas tree around Cyber Monday, you might have overpaid for your tree. According to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), Christmas tree prices reach an all-season high around Cyber Monday, costing Americans an average of $81.
Ways To Save: According to NCTA, waiting to buy your tree until the week before Christmas could save you an average of 22 percent. If you really want to save, buy your tree on Christmas Eve — NCTA says that’s when tree prices drop to an all-season low and you could end up paying an average of just $47 instead.
If you’re hosting Christmas dinner this year, start budgeting for that meal. According to a survey from GoBankingRates, Americans plan to spend an average of $152 on Christmas dinner.
Ways To Save: Before heading to the grocery store, download apps to help you save. Make sure you have your list ready, too. Straying from it could cost you. Of course, one of the best ways to save is to ask others to contribute to the feast. Aunt Millie can surely do the potatoes, while cousin Jack can bring green beans.
Is it really Christmas without the decorations? We think not. According to HomeAdvisor, the average person pays $393 to have their Christmas lights installed professionally. Even if you’re not hiring a pro, HomeAdvisor says strands of lights could cost anywhere from $80 to $300 depending on the size of your home.
Ways to Save: Make due with what you have this year and then stock up on discounted lights after the holidays. Buying strands of lights after Christmas could save you a pretty penny. Then, DIY your decor next year. Lowe’s has a great how-to video on YouTube to help you hang those lights like a pro.
Even with all the technology we use on a daily basis, so many people still spend money on old-fashioned Christmas cards. If you’re planning to send your holiday cheer by mail this year, it could cost you at least $28. For this example, we looked at the price of a package of 36 Christmas cards on Amazon, $9.99, and the cost of stamps, 50 cents at the post office. If you were to write and mail out these 36 Christmas cards, each with a 50-cent stamp, it would add up to about $28.
Ways To Save: If you just have to mail old-fashioned Christmas cards, buy them in bulk to save on the price per card. Then, buy your stamps on Stamps.com. While stamps cost 50 cents a piece at the post office, they’re just 47 cents each on Stamps.com — that’s a 6 percent savings, and you can print your stamps right from your home.
If you’re someone who leaves your holiday shopping to the last minute, you’re not alone. According to a report from the National Retail Federation, 53 percent of people plan to finish their holiday shopping on the Saturday before Christmas, which is known as “Super Saturday.” If you’re someone who is already finished, then congrats! Can you help the rest of us out?
Ways To Save: If you’re looking to save and get your shopping done early, hit up the other annual sales that take place year-round. Presidents Day Weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, Amazon Prime Day, Labor Day Weekend — mark your calendar for them all right now!
Pro Tip 3: “You can heighten the value you’re giving not in the monetary sense, but in the sentimental sense, by just investing a little more time on what it is that you’re providing as a gift,” Hamrick said. He also reminded us that that the most important thing is thoughtfulness.
If you’re a procrastinator, don’t feel pressured into just buying anything for your loved ones. You could end up spending more than you originally planned. Consider a thoughtful gift like offering to help with a big home project, a coupon for a girls’ night or simply a memorable photo in a frame.
Between your Christmas tree, lights on your home, Christmas cards, presents and dinner on December 25, you could end up spending $1,515, based on all the numbers in this article. That’s a pretty penny for one month of holiday cheer, but we totally get it. If you’re planning to really embrace the spirit of the holiday this Christmas, then start budgeting STAT.
Ways To Save: Since Christmas will be here before you know it, start doing a little inventory of your budget. How much have you already spent on a Christmas tree, lights, cards and presents? Now think about how much more you want to spend, as well as what you can afford. Putting a cap on your spending now can help you finish out the last bit of shopping in a wallet-friendly way.
Pro Tip 4: Don’t stress about making all of your holiday purchases with your credit cards. Just use the right card. Schulz said to consider what you’re looking for and what you want to get out of that card.
“If you’re someone who wants to use your holiday spending to get yourself a bunch of miles to finance your summer vacation, then you should pick one kind of card,” Schulz said. “Or if you’re somebody who’s just looking to get a little cash back to help extend your budget, then you should get a different type of card.”
Whatever you do, don’t feel pressured into spending money just because it’s Christmas time. By shopping smart during the holiday season, as well as year-round, you’ll enjoy celebrating with friends and loved ones even more.