Holiday shoppers plan to spend up to $276 per family member on average this season. These tips can help them avoid getting into debt

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  • According to a survey by CreditCards.com, the average parent with children under 18 plans to spend $276 per child on gifts this holiday season.
  • The average vacationer with a significant other intends to spend $251 on gifts for them.
  • Although many consumers may spend the same or less than they did last year, they may still be at risk of going into debt. These tips can help avoid this.

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Most Americans say they don’t intend to spend more this holiday season than they did last year — yet that doesn’t mean they won’t go into debt.

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a Survey from CreditCards.com The average parent with children under 18 plans to spend $276 per child on gifts. Meanwhile, the average vacationer with a significant other can spend $251 on gifts for them.

Not many holiday shoppers are planning to increase their budget for this holiday season compared to last year. The survey found that 48% of the respondents intended to spend about the same. Meanwhile, 21% said they intend to spend less and 13% said they anticipate spending more. The remaining 9% said they weren’t sure yet.

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Those planning a retreat will start with decorations, followed by entertainment and hosting, gifts and travel, in that order.

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However, despite the desire to keep their spending under control, 41% of respondents indicated that they are willing to take out a loan this holiday season. This was even higher for those who already have credit card debt, with 60% saying they would be willing to add to their balance.

Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, said there are risks that people could still do more this year.

“Retail sales are setting records, even in the face of somewhat low consumer confidence data,” Rossman said.

Even as many consumers refunded their credit card balances during the pandemic, data from Experian shows the average balance is $5,525, he said. In addition, more than half of active credit card accounts have their own balances from month to month. And the average credit card interest rate is over 16%.

This year, inflation could leave people with less money to spend on other things, which could mean adding to those balances. Meanwhile, the excitement of coming out of the pandemic this year’s holiday season could also prompt people to spend more, Rossman said.

There are some tips to avoid this.

First, even though it may seem early, start holiday shopping now, Rossman advised. Due to supply chain issues, some items may be hard to find this year.

“The longer you wait, the more likely things are to end, and I don’t think prices are going to go down,” Rossman said.

Next, set a goal to be creative in trying to keep your budget low. Think of ways to give away homemade items, or use unused credit card points or gift cards for your purchases.

“Your family doesn’t want you to be in credit card debt,” Rossman said. “Try to resist the temptation to overspend on the latest and greatest.”

Lastly, avoid deals like Buy Now, Pay Later unless you’ve really thought about how that loan will fit into your overall budget. While some of those deals offer 0% interest, others do not. Plus, adding up multiple monthly bills by buying multiple items this way can strain your budget, Rossman said.

“A lot of people don’t even look at it as debt, and I think it’s a slippery slope,” Rossman said.

CreditCards.com’s online survey was conducted in mid-October and included 2,485 adults.

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