American Consumer Credit Counseling Offers Five Smart Ways to Budget for the Holiday Season

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National financial education non-profit ACCC offers tips to avoid over-spending this holiday season.

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“Consumers who wait until the last minute usually have a tough time adjusting and sticking to their budgets. This can create a holiday debt hangover come the New Year, and that can linger for months or more.”

As fall settles in, retail stores begin to stock their shelves and prepare for the holiday season. This means consumers should be thinking ahead – not only about what they will be purchasing, but more importantly how they will afford it. In an effort to prevent a holiday spending aftershock, American Consumer Credit Counseling has developed five budget-friendly ways to prepare for the holiday shopping season.

It is not uncommon for consumers to get a head start on finding gifts for the holidays, according to an Ipsos study, One out of four people get some holiday shopping done before Halloween and 48 percent of shoppers say that they do the majority of their shopping on or before Cyber Monday.

“If you’re on a budget, getting an early start on holiday shopping is a smart plan,” said Steve Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “Consumers who wait until the last minute usually have a tough time adjusting and sticking to their budgets. This can create a holiday debt hangover come the New Year, and that can linger for months or more.”
Consumers continue to spend more and more on holiday shopping. During the 2014 holiday season, retail sales increased 4 percent compared to 2013, according to the National Retail Federation. Despite the boost in sales, waiting until December for holiday shopping is a trend that has been changing. Retailers saw nearly a 1 percent decline in sales in December last year.

“More people realize that waiting until December to start their holiday shopping can result in extremely high credit card balances that are impossible to pay back,” Trumble said. “Spending small amounts on holiday gifts from each paycheck can prevent overspending and dependence on credit cards. It can also make the total amount spent on holiday shopping rather manageable..”

There are many ways consumers can start saving on holiday spending while still enjoying the autumn months. ACCC provides five essential tips on how to make small changes now to avoid breaking the bank this holiday season:

1.    Do Your Research: Shopping before Black Friday has its perks. You have time to do research before you hit the stores. Call around and go online to find the best deals. You should also try to consolidate your shopping trips to a few stores to cut down on transportation costs.

2.    Set a Budget and Save – Know your budget, make it non-negotiable and then save enough to afford that budget. ACCC’s Saving for a Goal financial calculator can help you determine how much you will need to save on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis to save a certain amount for holiday spending. That way, you can start putting money aside now for holiday expenses.

3.    Debit Instead of Credit: – Use debit instead of credit cards. A debit card automatically forces you to spend only what you have, and allows you to avoid paying interest. It also prevents you from creating an enormous bill that may take months to pay off.

4.    Open a “Holiday” Account – Many banks have a “Christmas Club” account intended to help people save for the holidays. Consumers can start putting money into the account each month, and the bank only allows you to withdraw money from it on a certain date so you are not tempted to take out money prior to the holidays.

5.    Make a List and Check it Twice. Plan a list of gifts ahead of time for people and buy them before the holiday rush. One way to do this is to carry your list with you. All too often shoppers will get distracted by flash sales and “bargains” and end up with a trunk full of items that were not even included on the shopping list. By simply carrying a list with you, whether it is hand-written or on a smartphone, consumers can save themselves hundreds in unwanted and unnecessary items. You don’t need to wait until November either. Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals may seem great, many retailers are having the same sales now and during Columbus Day.

ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization, that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:

  •     For credit counseling call 800-769-3571
  •     For bankruptcy counseling. call 866-826-6924
  •     For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
  •     Or visit us online at

About American Consumer Credit Counseling

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management and debt relief through education, credit counseling, and debt management solutions. In order to help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loans, youth and money, homeownership, identity theft, senior living and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to or visit

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Marissa Sullivan
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