We all know the holiday shopping hangover is coming, but the vast majority of Americans won't be able to avoid it. According to the National Retail Federation, almost 138 million people will start their holiday shopping over Thanksgiving weekend!
The average person will spend over $900, which is enough to make anyone feel terrible when they look at their bank accounts come January.
While the obvious answer would be to spend less this year – sometimes that's just not what ends up happening. I know personally that I go into every holiday season hoping to keep the costs to a minimum, but I like giving gifts (unfortunately for my wallet).
Here are a few ways you can recover from your holiday shopping hangover this year:
Offset the costs by shopping online
This tip is basically a preventative measure. In addition to avoiding big mall crowds and crazy shoppers, you can find most of the same great deals online! By using online shopping tools like Ebates and Qmee, you can actually make money while you shop during this holiday season!
Both tools are essentially an app that you download and install on your browser. You aren't going to get rich or even come close to matching your spending, but it may cushion the blow with cash rewards in your online accounts.
Try a week-long spending ban
There's plenty of stories in the personal finance world of ultra-frugal people avoiding consumer spending for months at a time. While you don't need to be that intense, it may be a good idea to hit the reset button after the holidays and try a temporary spending ban.
Start a Side Hustle
This site started as a side hustle, and it has become a great source of income for me over the past two years. With that said – don't feel like a side hustle needs to become your full-time job.
There are plenty of ways to make extra money in your spare time, and they aren't complicated. Doing something as simple as garage sale shopping and reselling on eBay may help you recoup from your holiday shopping hangover.
Track your Money
Even though you probably don't want to look at your credit card after a shopping trip, it's essential that you do. As technology continues to get better, keeping track of your money is becoming increasingly simple.
Money tracking tools like Mint and Personal Capital (the tool my wife and I use regularly) are free and allow you to see important personal finance metrics like weekly spending, net worth, and account balances.
Related article: Personal Capital Review: Free Money Tracking
Limit your food expenses
One of the most effective (and easiest) ways to cushion the blow of higher than expected shopping expenses is by limiting the amount you spend on food. As tempting as it may be to eat out while everyone is off for the holidays, try to plan your meals out and eat at home as much as possible.
Avoid going out for entertainment
Have you seen how much it costs to go to a movie lately? Entertainment costs stacked on top of increased holiday spending can be a big blow to your extra cash.
Entertaining at home instead can drastically reduce the amount of money going out during the end of the year, and you'll probably find that you have a better time without the guilt of spending too much.
Plan for next year
One of the smartest strategies I've seen to prepare for holiday spending (and avoid credit card balances around the holidays) is the use of designated savings accounts provided by banks and credit unions.
Many of these institutions provide “holiday shopping clubs”, which encourage customers to set aside money every month to prepare for the end of the year. The best part? Many of these accounts hold the funds until the fall (usually October) and then deposit the money into your main account just in time for the holidays!