- Almost 3 in 10 shoppers are going into the holiday season still carrying debt from last year’s festivities.
- Experts suggest crafting a strategy in two parts: Wrangle your debt and scale back your holiday budget.
For some people, opening up a credit card statement is like a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Holiday shoppers are expected to spend generously this year, with the National Retail Federation estimating the average consumer’s outlay at $1,007 for everything from gifts to food to holiday attire — a 4.1 percent increase from last year. Another analysis, from NerdWallet, anticipates an 18 percent jump on gift spending alone, to an average total $776.
But that doesn’t give the true picture of the cost: 28 percent of shoppers are entering this holiday season still paying off debt from last year’s festivities, according to NerdWallet.
Experts say that if you’re among those still lugging around debt from last year, now is a good time to pause and strategize, before Black Friday week sets off a long stretch of frenzied spending.
“If you’re going into the holidays with debt, your first priority should be to focus on paying it down,” said Bruce McClary, vice president of communications at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “Everything else should be secondary. The worst thing you could do is dig yourself a deeper hole.”