Tips for Handling Last-Minute Holiday Expenses

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Last updated on April 12th, 2023

As the holiday season arrives, the urge to splurge is now greater than ever. So, what can you do to better plan your holiday shopping and avoid last-minute costs? Recently, a staff member at the University of Idaho shared their tips for handling last-minute holiday shopping expenses. Here’s what she had to say:

Carefully Budget Your Spending Ahead of Time

One of the best ways to handle last-minute holiday expenses is to be prepared beforehand. In a helpful article to Idaho residents, Becky Hutchins of the University of Idaho details her intensive planning strategy for holiday spending.

This process includes compiling a Holiday Budget Worksheet, which outlines an extensive array of potential costs, like decorations, greeting cards, presents, family photos, and even gas purchases and decorations.

Carefully planning all your potential costs not only helps you better understand your budget but also enables you to eliminate waste (where possible) and better identify potential last-minute costs before they happen.

Shop with a List

Hutchins also recommends shopping with a list. Keeping track of what you need to buy can help eliminate last-minute surprises from popping up. Using a detailed list means you won’t forget paper plates, flowers, or even extra eggnog – saving you money and headaches when the family arrives for the holidays.

Shopping with a list has the added benefit of keeping the urge to impulse-buy down. Using a list lets you know exactly what you need – and what you don’t.

Track Your Spending

While making a list (and checking it twice) when shopping is critical, so, too, is tracking your spending. Hutchins argues that using cash for holiday purchases is ideal since it allows better tracking of expenses. The coronavirus pandemic, however, makes cash a riskier alternative than credit cards or contactless payments.

“If you plan to do your holiday shopping with a credit card, consider using only one credit card and keeping a running tally of your expenditures,” she says. Multiple cards may lead to confusion over costs, blowing budgets out of the water.

If you use a credit card this holiday season, always spend only what you can afford to pay back at the end of the billing statement. Overstretching your finances – especially for last-minute purchases – can quickly lead to debt that can last well into the new year.

Related Article: The Best Credit Cards for the Holidays for 2020

Featured photo by Matthew Henry / Burst

About: Cory
Cory Santos

Cory is's "Jack of all trades" and resident credit expert, covering all facets of the credit card space. Cory holds academic degrees in both the U.S. and U.K. In addition to credit cards, Cory finds that jogging, cats, and memes are essential parts of a balanced day.

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