5 Sneaky Holiday Spending Traps to Avoid This Year

It’s easy to get distracted by the busyness of the Christmas season and forget to spend smart. These sneaky Holiday spending traps are mistakes I see practiced over and over again, even by seasoned shoppers!

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It's easy to get distracted by the busyness of the Holiday season and forget to spend smart. These sneaky spending traps are mistakes I see practiced over and over again, even by seasoned shoppers! Are you guilty of any of these?

You have to buy stuff — that’s a no-brainer. Okay, maybe you don’t have too, but probably 99.9% of us buy a little something to celebrate December 25th…..am I right?

With so much to bake, buy, wrap, and decorate, it’s no wonder so many of us are swept up in the glitter and nostalgia of it all. Wallets and purse strings practically fall open at the sound of a sale, and retailers literally bank on this being their best season ever.

But in the middle of all the glitz and glam, these five Holiday spending traps can easily sneak up on you if you’re not careful. Some of them are not-so-easy to spot, others….a no-brainer, but all are a good reminder as we navigate crowded store aisles in the coming weeks!

Spending Trap #1: Shopping Without a Strategy

Going into the Holiday season without a plan is retail suicide. Businesses count on blind spending because they know you’re just trying to please everyone on your gift list and get out of the store as soon as possible. Okay, maybe that’s just me, but I have a feeling it’s not!

That’s why, if you want to manage money better, it’s important now more than ever to BUDGET. Yes, I know…..I said the B-Word! But you need to know what you can reasonably spend before stepping one foot into a big box store, or clicking the submit button in your virtual online cart.

Limits on your spending prevent over-spending, and once you have a set figure for every single person on your list, you know exactly where to shop and what you can get. If you’d like, I’d love to send you the exact Christmas Gift Budget Worksheet I use to keep me on track. Just pop your email address in the box below and I’ll get it sent straight away!

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Spending Trap #2: Shopping Under Pressure

Uh oh. This is a big one.

Whether it’s based on the expectations of other people, or self-imposed {I tend to think it’s the latter}, there’s nothing like Holiday spending to make you squirm under mounds of intense pressure. Retailers use this to their advantage too.

They know you don’t want to fight the crowds and would rather get in and get out as fast as possible, so they provide convenient sale displays and end-caps in the middle of aisles and near the checkout line. They entice you with limited time offers to get you into the store, where they know you’ll spend more on things that aren’t necessarily on sale. Don’t give in!

Take your time and compare prices before making a final decision to buy. Use price matching policies to your advantage, and don’t be fooled by a once-in-a-lifetime deal. You can probably count on it coming around again.

Spending Trap #3: Purchasing Extended Warranties

Expensive electronics and consumer-grade appliances consistently top the charts of Holiday sales, and more than 90% of the time, you’re hit with a hard-sell at the checkout line to buy an extended warranty for it too. But rarely do these items need repair during the warranty period, and newsflash…..your product may already have an existing warranty included in the price!

For instance, consider these factors:

  • You usually have anywhere between 30-90 days to return an item. Depending on where you bought it, the retailer may take it back for cash or store credit.
  • More expensive items sometimes come with a free 12-month manufacturers’ warranty already in place.
  • The cost to repair an item, might be cheaper than paying for a warranty, depending on what about it breaks, of course.
  • If you pay with a credit card, you might already have an existing eligible warranty in addition to, or in place of, the manufacturer’s one, thus eliminating the need to buy another one at the checkout counter. Be sure to check with your credit card company to see if this is the case!

Another idea is to put the money you would have spent on a warranty, into an Emergency Fund to pay for the item when or if it breaks. That way, you still have control over your cash, and if you don’t end up using it, you have a pretty sweet bonus to put towards something else!

Spending Trap #4: Buying Christmas Supplies Now

Every year, the Christmas decor and supply selection at Target seems to get bigger, better, and way cuter. But unless you desperately {and I mean, desperately}, need a very specific item, you’re better off waiting until after December 25th. Some stores, like Michael’s Arts & Crafts, even mark their Christmas decor to 50% off the week leading up to Christmas!

So instead of spending money on wrapping paper, gift bags, gold accents, lights, and greenery now, keep a running list of items you’d like to buy after the Holidays are over. I would even write down the specific store and item you saw to see if it’s available later for less.

Gift Giving Supplies | Creative Savings Blog

Then, you have permission to go a little crazy and stock up on items you know you definitely need for next year. Think about what you ran out of, and replenish your supply all you want. Only this time, you’ll be doing it at a significant discount.

If you do have to run to the store, here are 6 of my favorite ways to grab gift-giving supplies for less. 

Spending Trap #5: Paying a Premium on Trendy Items

The must-have gifts of the year are not only on your child’s wish list, they’re probably on yours too.

Whether it’s the newest gaming console, mega-popular Disney movie, or recently released Kindle that flood Holiday advertisements, you can bet they cost a pretty penny. And just like Christmas decor and supplies, you can score these toys and electronics much cheaper when the novelty wears off and newer editions hit the market.

I know…..it’s not as fun to wait, but the latest and greatest isn’t always the best option either. And think of it this way. When you allow companies time to work out all the kinks and bugs in their product, they create something even bigger and better. I’d much rather put my hard-earned money towards something like that, you?

No one wants to wake up from a spending coma and start the New Year in the middle of Christmas debt. That means it’s more crucial than ever to spend smart during the busy Holiday season.

Keep your eye out for sneaky spending traps, and guard your money wisely…….because once it’s gone, it’s gone. And I don’t want you to regret a single penny!

What spending traps would you add to this list?



Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

Just one more thing…

The best way to prevent that December 23rd panic is to save gift ideas all year long, so come November and December, you know exactly what to buy, and who to buy it for. This powerful Christmas shopping tool keeps your favorite gift ideas from slipping away, and minimizes those stressful shopping trips during the busy Holiday season!The best way to prevent that December 23rd panic is to save gift ideas all year long, so come December, you know exactly what to buy, and who to buy it for. This powerful Christmas shopping tool keeps your favorite gift ideas from slipping away, and minimizes those stressful shopping trips during the busy Holiday season!

Read More…


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  1. You said it right Kalyn, anything you wrote here is true. The Spending Trap #1: Shopping Without a Strategy can caused you a big trouble later on. You realized, you bought stuffs that you don’t need because you got pressure to have it during holiday season. This kind of habit if doesn’t change for a whole year, it means you are putting yourself in a very risky situations. Assessing your finances is a good start to start the year.

  2. I’m not a very good gift planner, but #1 really helps! My husband and I try to have an idea ahead of time (though we should probably plan a bit more) of how much we’re willing to spend so that we don’t go crazy. Another way to keep the spending in check is to make homemade gifts like cards if you’re crafty.

    1. We did some homemade DIY gifts this year too, Hannah! Joseph and I were actually pretty excited with how they turned out. Hopefully the recipients will enjoy them as well. {If they do – maybe you’ll see a couple of them on here.} 🙂

  3. #1 was a huge pitfall for me for years. Thankfully, now I make a plan before I purchase anything and it saves us so much! Also, now that we only use cash, I’m less tempted to fall into the trap of “you only need to spend $20 more to receive our free gift”. That one has gotten me more times than I can count to!

    1. Retailers are so sneaky! Shoppers go in with a plan to spend $10 and end up spending $50 so they can get a $5 gift card!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your cash strategy. I’m sure you’ve said many times “You can’t spend it if it’s not there.”

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