The holidays have arrived in all of their capitalist glory. It’s a time of glittering lights, family gatherings, and, let’s be real - two months solid of serious shopping temptations. ‘Tis (unfortunately) the season for spending hundreds on a Black Friday deals spree at 3 am 💀
Our spending habits can fly out the window when the holidays arrive, derailing our best budgeting efforts “because it’s Christmas”. So, the question is: how can we navigate the festive frenzy without shredding our wallets?
If your rent is due and payday feels like a really long time from now, don’t panic. We’re diving into the common traps of holiday overspending and unwrapping the secrets to outsmarting them.
Understanding why we overspend during the holiday season
Social media has become the ultimate holiday spending trap. Instagram, TikTok and other platforms are flooded with images of perfect holiday settings, gifts, and parties. The result? FOMO, inadequacy and throwing our budgets to the wind in favor of keeping up appearances 🙃
A classic example of this is the newest social media trend that literally nobody asked for: buying all-new seasonal decorations each year and throwing out last year’s ones. Here’s to hoping that idea dies out as quickly as the environmental disaster it is.
Not to mention, the holidays are gold for marketing teams. We’re often swept up in joy and nostalgia - we’re looking at you, Walmart, with that Mean Girls ad. Retailers know exactly how to tug at our heartstrings and get us to part with our hard-earned cash on impulsive buys.
Many of us enter the holiday season without a clear financial plan, which can quickly lead to overindulging. Without a budget, it's easy to lose track of how much we spend on gifts, decorations, travel, and festivities. This lack of planning can result in a very rude awakening when the credit card bills arrive in January.
So WTF are we meant to do when it comes to Christmas spending?
6 strategies to overcome holiday spending
Do a holiday spending audit
If you struggle with seasonal spending every year, it’s time to reflect on the years gone by and see where your budget fell short. Be honest with yourself and your emotional spending triggers to get the most out of it.
Look back at your spending from previous holidays. What worked? What led to impulse buying hot chocolate kits from that random TikTok shop? Learning from past experiences can provide valuable insights and help you make smarter choices this season.
Go blackout on big sales days
Take a break from social media when you know peak sales, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, are coming up. The marketing spin is strong, and half the time you end up buying sh*t you didn’t even need for yourself rather than gifts.
A digital detox on big sales events can work wonders. Put your phone down and go keep busy doing something else. Out of sight, out of mind - and your bank balance will thank you.
Form a holiday budget pact
“Thou shalt not overspend.” Shared commitments can be a powerful motivator. Team up with the besties or family members to keep each other accountable for holiday spending. Want to take it a step further? Share your Christmas budget goals and check in regularly to encourage one another to stick to these limits.
Cleo’s nifty budget planner can help here - it uses AI to create a plan that suits you and your income levels, not those old boomer principles of saving up for a house paid for with a bushel of raspberries 💀
Follow financially savvy influencers
Hang on - didn’t we just say social media was mega unhelpful with buying a load of sh*t you don’t need? Well, you’re not exactly going to go cold turkey on TikTok and Insta. Instead, make this an opportunity to curate your feed for the holidays.
Follow influencers focusing on smart spending, budgeting tips, and financial empowerment. The goal is to stay on the right side of TikTok that’s full of de-influencing, budget seasonal decor ideas and practicing mindful spending. You can do it bestie ✨
Create a mindful spending ritual
Before making any purchase, pause for a moment of mindfulness. Ask yourself: "Do I really need this? How does this align with my financial goals?" For non-essential purchases, impose a waiting period on yourself – it could be 24 hours or even a week. This gives you time to consider if you truly need the item.
If you’re really tempted, turn to Cleo’s saving tools. She’s ready to hype you up or roast you whenever you need a little motivation, and she can help you set savings goals so your eyes are always on the prize.
Look at low-cost celebration ideas
Expectations are high around the holidays to spend out on big gifts and go out for every seasonal-themed happy hour, but there are so many ways to have fun without sacrificing your budget.
Host potluck dinners, organize handmade gift exchanges, or volunteer together at a soup kitchen for those in need. The holidays are what you make of them - not about how much you spend.
Cleo’s ready to keep your holidays on track
A budgeting and saving bestie? We love to see it. Cleo’s the literal answer to your budgeting prayers.
This AI app has a free AI-powered budget planner, so you know exactly how much you should spend each month. With spending breakdowns and low balance alerts to help visualize how you’re doing financially for the month, you’ll actually want to stick to your budget.
She’s just as helpful with your savings. Set personalized goals, autosave and round up your everyday expenses to build an emergency fund, and get easy withdrawals with Cleo. Savings have never been so easy.
Need the full lowdown on your spending habits? Type ‘roast me’ and Cleo’s library is open 💅 After a softer approach? Try ‘hype me’ instead for some gentle support.
Get started by linking your bank account to Cleo today - chill, she’s not into third-party tracking and can only read transactions, not access your accounts.