Morgan Stanley
  • Wealth Management

Eight Ways to Keep Holiday Spending Under Control

See some simple strategies that may help if panic shopping starts to set in.

I always have the best intentions for staying on budget as the holiday season approaches, but I know all too well how as the big dates get close, panic shopping can set in.

I’ve developed a small collection of guidelines to help me keep last-minute shopping from blowing a hole in my budget. See if some of these strategies would work for you:

  1. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. You don’t have to spend a lot for a gift to be meaningful. A book you love, a framed photograph or a beautiful card can often be among the most touching gifts.

  2. Roll up your sleeves. A homemade treat may make a better gift for your host than an expensive bottle of champagne. An offer to take a child on a fun excursion or help out an older relative with a chore can be a terrific low-cost gift.

  3. Don’t splurge on party clothes. You’ll have just as much fun at a holiday party (maybe more) if you skip the $60 ugly sweater that you may only wear once.

  4. Be smart about online shopping. Online shopping can turn up some great deals but can be a trap when it comes to last-minute purchases. Don’t order items that might not arrive on time. Go easy on expedited shipping. A great option: order online to pick up in the store.

  5. Stay cyber secure. Stick with reputable sites, even if you’re desperate to fulfill a loved one’s request for an out-of-stock or hard-to-find item (more tips on cybersecurity).

  6. Don’t shy away from gift cards. I believe the stigma of giving a gift card is gone for most people, who are happy to be able to treat themselves to something they really want. If you’re out of time, it’s a better option than picking up an overpriced trinket at the last minute.

  7. Consider a gift to charity.  For the person who has everything, a contribution in their name to a charity or social cause they care about can make a thoughtful (and easy last-minute) gift.

  8. Don’t rack up too much credit card debt. A January credit card bill that is twice what you expect and more than you can pay off can really put a damper on the New Year. If shopping fever starts to set in, conjure up an image of that bill to curb your enthusiasm.
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