5 Money Mistakes People Make During the Holidays

Every year when the holiday season swings around, I get more careless about spending money. For the first time ever, I’ve spent most of 2021 on a tight budget that I respected and followed closely. I wanted to increase the amount I was saving this year, and to do that, I needed to be cautious and in control of how much I was spending on a daily basis. 


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  • It can be hard to stick to a budget and savings goals during the holiday season.
  • Financial planners say overspending on Black Friday and not budgeting for gifts hurt many clients.
  • Missing financial deadlines, store credit cards, and buy now, pay later financing are also mistakes.

But as the party invites start entering my mailbox and big shopping sales are coming up, I’m worried that I’ll fall back into bad habits and overspend in November and December.

To help make sure I continue to stay on track with my savings, I asked financial planners to share the biggest money mistakes their clients make during the holiday season.

1. They overspend on Black Friday and during other big sales 

I’ve always been a discount-only shopper and rarely buy anything when it’s full price. That’s why I get tempted to overspend on Black Friday when I see all the big sales. Financial planner Tania Brown said that holiday shopping deals should be accounted for in your financial plan. 

“Black Fridays and all of the great sales are awesome, but if you can’t afford to buy the item or have to put it on your credit card in order to afford it, then you should reconsider buying it,” said Brown. “A sale is not an excuse to overspend.”

2. They don’t set a budget per gift

At the start of the holiday season, I always make a list of people who I want to give gifts to, but I never price out how much I want to spend on each person. Brown says it’s important to set a budget per gift.

“If you don’t have a strategy for how much you are going to spend, trust me, all of the flashy ads and guilt-ridden commercials will make you feel like you hate your kids if you don’t buy them a $400 gift,” said Brown. “Set a budget and stick to it.”

3. They sign up for store credit cards

Even though it can be tempting to sign up for store credit cards to get an extra discount, financial planner Chuck Zuzak said that there are risks to signing up for many new store credit cards because of attractive financing terms during the holidays.

Zuzak said that opening a lot of store credit cards may result in many hard pulls on your credit history, which will remain on your report for 24 months and could lower your credit score. 

“Also, many people are bad at estimating their monthly cash flow and think they can afford to purchase on credit,” added Zuzak. “If money is tight, only purchase on credit if you have funds set aside in advance for the equivalent cash purchase.”

4. They choose the buy now, pay later option on purchases

So many stores and online merchants are providing the option for people to buy now and pay later, but financial planner Brett Bernstein said that could be a mistake.

“For one, they can impact your overall credit,” said Bernstein. “And two, they can creep up on you and you need to either have the cash to pay them off or significant interest can kick in. It can become the gift that keeps on costing you.” 

5. They miss important end-of-year financial deadlines

The last few months of the year can be filled with so much excitement that people might forget about important financial deadlines. Financial planner Sergio Garcia said missing these deadlines can be a costly mistake. 

Garcia cited forgetting to file your taxes if you planned on an extension to October, or missing the January 18 deadline to file your fourth-quarter earnings as examples of things that clients forget to do during the holiday season.

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