5 Tips to Manage Holiday Spending Debt

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Last updated on December 30th, 2023

The holiday shopping season ends just as quickly as it began. For most Americans, that means a return to normalcy after a month of festivity. For some, however, it is the start of a financial struggle due to being perhaps a bit too carefree with their spending. Are you looking to avoid a financial hangover after a month of hefty credit card use? Here are some smart strategies to help you stay debt-free during the holiday season, or to bounce back after a month of heavy holiday shopping.

Table of Contents

At a Glance

  • While avoiding holiday debt can be challenging, there are steps you can take to reduce your risks of overspending
  • Budgeting is an essential tool regardless of your spending plans
  • Avoid impulse buying as much as possible
  • Ensure you make at least your minimum payment due to avoid additional harm to your credit score
  • Consider a balance transfer if you qualify

The Importance of Managing Holiday Spending

Managing holiday spending is more than just a financial concern; it’s a matter of maintaining your overall well-being. Overspending during the holidays can lead to significant stress, anxiety, and even depression when the bills start piling up. Taking control of your holiday spending can ensure a more enjoyable and stress-free season.

Holiday debt is a common issue faced by many individuals and families. The temptation to overspend on gifts, decorations, and extravagant meals can quickly lead to financial hardship. Understanding the risks associated with holiday debt is crucial to avoid falling into its trap. Accumulating debt during the holidays can result in high-interest rates, late fees, and a long-term impact on your financial stability.

Tips for Staying Debt-Free During the Holiday Season

Staying debt-free during the holiday season requires discipline and careful planning. Here are a few additional tips to help you stay on track:

  • Start saving early: Set aside money throughout the year specifically for holiday expenses. This will alleviate the financial burden when the season arrives.
  • Communication is key: Discuss your financial situation with your family and friends. By setting expectations and mutually agreeing on spending limits, you can avoid unnecessary pressure to overspend.
  • Focus on experiences: Instead of buying material gifts, consider giving experiences such as a day trip or a homemade voucher for a special outing. These can be more meaningful and often come at a lower cost.
  • Giving your spirit is a great option: Remember that the holidays are about more than just material possessions. Volunteering your time or donating to a charitable cause can bring immense joy and fulfillment without breaking the bank.

Tips for Managing Holiday Debt

If you find yourself with post-holiday debt, it’s important to address it promptly to prevent further financial strain. Looking for a few evergreen tips to help you bounce back from a month of heavy spending? From setting a budget and finding ways to save money to managing credit cards responsibly, we’ve got you covered:

Budget, Budget, Budget

Setting a budget is one of the most effective strategies for managing holiday spending. Many Americans ignore budgets during the holiday season and spend big on friends, family, and themselves. However, once the party is over, the holiday season’s financial realities sink in. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are known for savings, but they are also times when millions of Americans break their budgets and lock in early Christmas, Chanukah, and other holiday gifts.

The situation worsens when last-minute shopping (including the National Retail Federation’s “Super Saturday” before Christmas) only exacerbates the situation, leading to retail debt. Bouncing back from too many holiday purchases requires budgeting. Take a close look at what you are spending money on. From here, review where you can make cuts for things that aren’t necessary. If you still want the freedom to shop, you might have to live with fewer takeout meals or deliveries.

The key is making a budget that works for your lifestyle while meeting your financial goals. This process may take some fine-tuning, but it can help prepare your finances for the rest of the year, into the next, and beyond.

Avoid Impulse Buying

What’s the point of a budget if you don’t stick to it and expect to spend well in excess? Credit cards are great because they let you make purchases and pay for them later. This flexibility, however, makes them dangerous for impulse buyers.

Impulse purchases can quickly derail your holiday budget. Avoid the desire to buy something as soon as you see something desirable. Don’t fall victim to ads on social media that encourage you to buy now and worry about it later. Sticking to your budget might cause short-term heartache with the loss of shopping binges, but it can reap serious rewards soon.

Keep Up with Your Payments

Credit cards can be useful during the holiday season, but they can also lead to financial trouble if not used responsibly. Getting a credit card statement after heavy holiday gift spending can be discouraging. The last thing you should do, however, is to ignore that bill. Payment history has the biggest impact on a person’s credit score. This means that a late or skipped payment can cause financial harm for years.

Even paying the minimum balance due makes a huge difference over not paying anything. However, one of the big downsides is that the minimum might incur more interest over time. Still, it will save you negative remarks on your credit score and report. A spotty payment history can lead to loan application denials and higher interest rates on auto loans or mortgages.

Focus On Paying Off Balances, Not Rewards

Another reason credit cards are such popular purchase options is their rewards. A vast assortment of cards features rewards earned with every purchase, either points or cash back. These rewards can save you money over time, but they also serve as negative reinforcement for impulse buying.

After a holiday shopping and entertainment spending spree, thinking about credit card balances –not points – is the best action. Carrying lower balances means you’ll be paying less in interest charges each month. Now, that’s a reward worth aiming for!

Our helpful credit card payoff calculator can better help you understand what any new payment plan would be like:

Consolidate Balances to Speed Up Repayment

If you have multiple credit cards, consider a balance transfer to combine all those amounts owed. The purpose of a balance transfer is to consolidate existing balances and pay them down with one payment.

Because of that goal, balance transfer cards typically come with a lower interest rate than other types of cards – especially rewards credit cards. Conducting a balance transfer can reduce monthly payments, free up cash for groceries, and help a tight financial bottom line after holiday spending.


Managing holiday spending is crucial to staying debt-free and maintaining your financial well-being. By setting a budget, finding ways to save money, avoiding impulse purchases, and managing credit cards responsibly, you can enjoy a stress-free holiday while staying on top of your finances. Remember, the key is to prioritize your financial goals and make thoughtful decisions that align with your long-term financial stability.

Related Article: The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards for Groceries & Delivery Services

Featured photo by Shopify / Burst

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About: Cory Santos
Cory Santos

Cory is the senior credit card editor at BestCards, specializing in everything credit card-related. He’s worked extensively with credit cards and other personal finance topics, including nearly five years at BestCards. Cory’s extensive knowledge is an essential part of the BestCards experience, helping readers to live their best financial lives with up-to-date insights and comprehensive coverage of all facets of the credit card space, including market trends, rewards guides, credit advice, and comprehensive credit card reviews.

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