Five Money-Saving Tips for Holiday Shopping

GWSB professor Vanessa Perry shares techniques for managing spending habits during the holiday season.

December 9, 2019

holiday spending

By Briahnna Brown

In the midst of holiday sales and shopping opportunities, it can be easy to lose track of spending.

George Washington University School of Business professor Vanessa Perry said that consumers are overspending during the holidays on social experiences as well as gifts. Younger consumers tend to overspend on experiences rather than tangible gifts, she said, and according to Experian, credit card debt for Millennial and Gen Z consumers has sharply increased in the past year.

She encourages the GW community to follow these tips to get through the holiday season without breaking the bank:

  1. Start with a budget. It’s best to plan a budget in advance and stick to it. Research indicates that creating a budget—even a mental budget—will help to avoid making unplanned or impulse purchases, Dr. Perry said. GW’s Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center provided some personal finance tips for budgeting and saving.
  2. Use an app to track finances. Apps that are designed to help track spending and set savings goals are good tools to use, Dr. Perry said. Some apps include Mint for budgeting or PocketGuard to avoid overspending.  
  3. Use low-interest rate credit cards. For anyone looking to make holiday purchases with a credit card and not planning on immediately paying off the entire balance, Dr. Perry recommends using one with a low-interest rate.
  4. Postpone some purchases. While it may be tempting to take advantage of holiday discounts, retailers will often discount products even further after the holiday season. So, for some purchases, such as electronics or clothing, or many experiential gifts, it is a better idea to wait before buying.
  5. Give alternative gifts. Rather than costly, tangible gifts, think about giving something else valuable, such as your time, Dr. Perry said. For example, a few hours of babysitting or washing a car, or even volunteering some time at a favorite charity are all good alternative gifts that help save money.