5 Ways Millennials Deal With Holiday Debt

It’s all fun-and-games until the credit card bill comes due.

Whether you want a plane that loops the loop or maybe just a Hula-Hoop, for many, the holiday season is a time for toys and a time for cheer.

That is, until the bill comes.

The average consumer adds more than $1,000 to his or her credit card balance during the holidays, and settlement companies such as National Debt Relief see a 20%-25% increase in the number of consumers seeking help in the first few months following the new year.

And it seems millennials are particularly prone to dive into debt over the holidays. According to a Magnify Money study, 24- to 35-year-olds are mostly likely to report going into debit, with a rate of 14.3%. Because members of this generation typically make less than older generations, debt might disproportionately affect us.

Of course there are ways to manage holiday spending, but what works best can vary widely by person. Here, five Callahan millennials share their strategies for holiday shopping and saving.

No. 1: Don’t Spend More Than You Can Afford

I try not to spend more than I can afford. I set a budget for myself in November based on how much I make and try not to exceed that. I set a limit for each family member there are eight and make notes in my phone as to how much I’ve spent on each person as I shop. I also always look for deals and have been lucky to find pretty good ones during the holiday season. I also spend any gift cards I get on other people, including a few I’ve gotten from work which have been super helpful.

Sophia Giulajan, Marketing and Engagement Associate

My Generation on CreditUnions.com gives young writers a platform to explore financial services and share insights on what makes the next generation tick.

No. 2: Know Your Limits

I don’t typically go into debt, but I do tend to dip into my savings more than planned .. although my fianc does a good portion of the shopping because she has better taste than I do.

Mike Zaleski, Account Management Coordinator

No. 3: Don’t Shop All At Once

I try to do my holiday and family birthday shopping throughout the year so I don’t let the last-minute holiday deals and steals entice me into overspending or self-gifting. I’ll purchase the items when I see them to gift at a later date, either for Christmas or a birthday whichever comes first. For example, when I was in Louisville, KY, this fall for the Annual KCUL Conference, I visited the Louisville Slugger Museum and decided a personalized slugger for my nephew would be an awesome gift. It was.

Jamie Maurer, Director, Leadership Development

No. 4: Use Those Points

I save up all the rewards points I earn over the course of the year for the express purpose of paying off holiday spending on my cards. I use my spending to afford more spending.

Erik Payne, Associate Editor

Talking ‘Bout My Generation

People try to put them down, but today’s young adults are forcing all industries to examine how they serve customers and hire employees. Follow along as CreditUnions.com explores the world of financial services through the eyes ofthe next generation.

No. 5: Don’t Fight It

Here’s my honest and simple answer: Rack up some credit card debt and worry about it next year.

Seth Shibelski, Marketing and Engagement Associate


January 10, 2018

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