MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The holiday season can be the most wonderful time of the year; it can also be the most costly.
Sixty-nine percent of Americans say money is their leading cause of stress, according to the American Psychological Association. Making smart spending decisions can help cut down on that stress.
To avoid overspending, the first thing experts recommend you do is make a list of what you need to buy, and check it twice. This will help you prioritize your needs versus your wants.
Another tip, just stick with cash; this way you're only spending what you have. If you use a card, find one with perks such as a rewards program.
You should also check your bills to see what you spent on Black Friday and set a budget before you do more holiday shopping. While your bills are out, compare your receipts to your transactions. A rule of thumb, always hold onto your receipts.
Christopher St. John, Investment Advisor Representative for Carolina Wealth Advisors Inc., says because many people don't do this; they overlook fraudulent charges.
"Keep your receipts, number one and one of the biggest things I always write on the back of mine is "See ID." St. John says doing this will prompt the store employee to match your credit card with your ID, so you're the only one swiping your card and overspending.
St. John says working with friends will help you stay accountable for your spending. "Talk to your significant other or a friend and tell them, here's what I'm going to spend. Psychologically, it will make you feel like you have to report to somebody"
Experts find that when people feel good about the economy, they tend to spend more. A recent Gallup Poll shows the average American will spend almost $800 in holiday gifts this year.
Taking precautions now will keep you from using your tax refund to pay off holiday debt- which is a common mistake.
"Tax rates are changing, and we're going to have some increase in tax rates, in particular the medicare tax," says St. John.
Avoid ending the year in debt, so come tax season, you can have a Happy New Year.
Look at holiday overspending like that New Years resolution. "Start doing right for your finances now because January 1, you're not going to be able to do right because you're going to have to pay everything back that you spent overboard in December," he says.