Holiday shoppers typically head to malls with bellies full of turkey and wallets full of cash the day after Thanksgiving to take advantage of Black Friday sales. But in 2021, Black Friday spending was down year-over-year for the first time ever, according to Adobe Digital Insights.
Total online spending on Black Friday was $8.9 billion, which is slightly lower than last year's total of $9 billion.
Shoppers are being strategic in their gift shopping, buying much earlier in the season and being flexible about when they shop to make sure they get the best deals.
That being said, the post-Thanksgiving shopping holidays — including Black Friday and Cyber Monday — are still the strongest online sales days of the season by far. Adobe predicts that Cyber Monday will be the biggest online shopping day of 2021, with consumers spending between $10.2 billion and $11.3 billion.
If you still have some holiday shopping left, keep reading for tips on how to save money and avoid overspending. Plus, learn what to do with your current shopping debt, including credit card consolidation. Visit Credible to compare interest rates on a variety of financial products without impacting your credit score.
3 shopping tips to help you save money this holiday season
It's easy to go overboard with spending when you're in the holiday spirit, but you don't have to sacrifice your financial well-being for the perfect gift. Follow these personal finance tips to keep your money in check:
Learn more about each shopping strategy in the sections below.
The holiday season can be a time of financial stress for many Americans. A recent survey from Ally Bank found that 32% of consumers are worried about overspending this holiday season.
"Nearly a third of the Americans we surveyed are concerned about going over budget this holiday season, yet 2 out of 5 do not use a plan or budget," said Lindsey Bell, chief markets and money strategist at Ally.
Here's how to build a realistic holiday spending plan:
- Make a list of each person on your gift-giving list
- Set a spending limit for each recipient
- Put aside some extra cash for unexpected expenses like shipping costs
To make things even easier, consider downloading a free budgeting app that can help you track your progress and notify you when you're overspending.
"Tracking spending is now as easy as clicking a mouse or opening an app," Bell said. "You also can sign up for automatic account alerts and use card controls to set limits on transaction amounts and merchant categories."
Online shopping has made it easier to track down the lowest prices on the year's hottest holiday gifts, which takes the pressure off consumers to handle all their holiday shopping on Black Friday. Visits to physical stores on Black Friday are down 28.3% compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to a report from Sensormatic Solutions.
Some online retailers, such as Amazon, let you track the price of items in your cart and send you an alert if there's a sudden price drop. This can help you avoid the time-sensitive pressure of making a purchase on a shopping holiday like Black Friday.
Plus, price-tracking software builds an added level of transparency when it comes to shopping costs. Free tools like Honey and ShopSavvy let you see the price history of items, so you can know if you're overpaying or getting a good deal.
The holiday season is the perfect time to utilize the credit card rewards you've been building all year long. You can use travel miles to cover airfare costs to visit family — you may even be able to exchange these points for gift cards that you can use to finance holiday expenses.
If you don't have a rewards credit card, you may be able to sign up for one before the holidays to earn an added bonus. Some credit card welcome offers include bonus cashback, rewards points or even an interest-free introductory period.
Compare credit card issuers in the table below, and visit Credible to see a full list of rewards credit cards.
Already racked up holiday debt? Consider consolidating to save money
Nearly half of consumers began their holiday shopping before November, according to the National Retail Federation. If you've already driven up your credit card balances this holiday season, you might be able to save money in the New Year with debt consolidation.
One popular way to consolidate credit card debt is with an unsecured personal loan, which is a lump-sum loan that you repay in steady monthly payments over a set period of time.
Since personal loans have low, fixed interest rates, they can help you save money when compared with credit cards. Whereas credit card interest rates are currently 17.13%, according to the Federal Reserve, the average rate on a two-year personal loan is 9.39%.
Borrowers with good credit can potentially save nearly $2,400 by consolidating their credit card debt into a personal loan, according to a recent analysis from Credible. A personal loan can also offer lower monthly payments than what you're currently paying on your credit cards.
You can view your estimated personal loan rate and repayment terms for free on Credible to see if debt consolidation is the right move for you.
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