Americans are trimming more than their trees this holiday season.
A recent Gallup poll found that U.S. gift givers planned to spend less this Christmas than last — $704, down from $786 in 2012.
Of the 1,039 American adults polled, 31% planned to spend less than $250, while 8% didn’t plan on purchasing Christmas presents.
Some 26% said they would spend $1,000 or more on presents, down from 30% in 2012.
We probably like these numbers way more than retailers, who count heavily on December profits.
And the Gallup poll closely aligns with a survey this week from Bankrate.com, which found 38% of people plan to spend less this year.
Of course, this can all change — consumers’ estimates of their holiday spending generally increase as the holiday approaches. Gallup figures from 2012 note an eleventh-hour spending surge the weekend before Christmas.
But avoiding overspending during the holiday seasons is about being savvy, not Scrooge-like.
The American Bankers Association recommends planning ahead to avoid starting 2014 in the red. While advance planning is out the window at this point, you can still benefit from a few of their tips if you’re frantically trying to finish your shopping:
- Limit gifts to family and close friends, and decide in advance how much you want to spend on each person.
- If you have to use credit, use only one credit card — with the lowest interest rate — and leave the rest at home. Only charge what you can afford to pay off in January.
- Comparison shop online before hitting the stores.
- Save your receipts for possible returns as well as to track what you’ve spent to plan for next Christmas.