Holiday shoppers are planning on spending more money, shopping earlier and trying new retailers. According to some consumer holiday shopping reports more than 1 in 3 holiday shoppers (36%) plan on spending more this year. Last year’s average American ran up holiday spending debt to $1,381 per consumer with almost 8 in 10 unable to pay it off by the end of January.

Holiday spending is a common way for people to land themselves in debt and financial stress. Some find themselves in trouble by rationalizing big spending and incurring debt during the holidays. This leads to paying for holiday spending well into the next year. Sentinel Federal Credit Union has three tips to give you confidence managing your money and resources through the season and into the new year.

Create a holiday budget. Figure out how much you can afford to spend this holiday season. Financial planners recommend spending less than 1.5 percent of your annual income on holiday expenses. An example: for someone with $35,000 gross income that amounts to a $525 limit for holiday spending. If you haven’t saved that much or tucked away extra over the year, consider cutting back or inquire at one of the seven SFCU locations about our holiday loan program running through December 31st.

Make a List-check it twice. Make a detailed gift list with a set amount to spend, keeping track of what is spent (make a simple spreadsheet or use the notes feature in your cell phone). Research indicates consumers reduce their food expense by 25-30% by using a shopping list this principle applies to holiday spending too.

Protect your card from fraud. The holidays are an active time for scammers. They are hoping your hectic holiday schedule will distract you from staying vigilant. You can easily manage and protect your Sentinel Federal debit card and credit card from fraud. Not only can you lock and unlock your card any time, for any reason, using our Mobile App, but you can also get a push notification when any transaction is made using your card.

At Sentinel Federal Credit Union our mission is to maintain and protect your financial future, a member owner. We wish you a safe and merry holiday season!