50% of Americans are worried about being able to afford gifts this holiday season

But we have expert tips on how to create the holiday magic without breaking the bank.

50% of Americans are worried about being able to afford gifts this holiday season
@lelia_milaya/Twenty20

We've said it again and again, but 2020 has been a tough year for many families—especially for those parents who have been furloughed or unemployed. With the holiday season in full swing, holiday debt poses a genuine threat to American's finances, especially for households without a steady income.

A recent Credit Karma survey found that 34% of Americans feel financially unprepared for the holidays and 50% are worried about affording gifts. We get it, mama.

But there are ways to have a magical holiday without feeling like you have to spend a ton of money. Here's how:


Introduce new traditions

Look at the activities your family and friends do around the holidays to see which cost you money, and cut them out. You don't need to participate in typical holiday activities like gift-giving and gathering for multiple parties (even if they are much smaller this year).

Instead, work with your family and close friends to think of new (free!) ways to celebrate the holidays. Maybe that means organizing a hike with friends (your own version of a Turkey Trot!) or playing board games. There are so many possibilities if you get creative.

Turn in-person gatherings into virtual gatherings

Eliminating things like traveling, buying any hostess gifts, bringing any food for potluck meals and more can help cut costs down significantly. As the pandemic persists and gatherings are already being encouraged to be kept small, it may be best to have family and friends celebrate from the comfort of home. When you are joining virtually and are just making Thanksgiving dinner for yourself, you can cut down on almost every cost except your personal feast!

Look for creative ways to give low-cost or free gifts

Between parents, siblings, in-laws, friends and more,somehow each year, our lists seem to get longer. If you're worried you won't be able to afford gifts for everyone on your list, look for other ways to make the holidays special. Whether that means organizing a gift exchange so you're buying for one instead of many, or you're gifting your time or something that is free, there are always alternatives.

Delay giving gifts

Given that some of the best deals can be found after Christmas, consider postponing gift giving until after the holidays when you can buy certain gifts on sale. If pushing your gift exchange by just a few days or a couple weeks can end up saving you, it may be worth it.

Look for decor that can be saved and last longer or repurpose

For instance, if you're looking to decorate with flowers this year, they can be costly and don't often last more than a week or so. Consider buying flowers once that dry well, and decorating with dried flowers. You can often find flowers like roses and greenery at your local grocery store that still look great once dried and won't break the bank. And, if you take good care of them, you can use them year-round. It's tempting to buy new pieces but consider how simple and cheap craft supplies can make your existing vases and photo frames more festive. Spray paint does wonders to transform thrift store finds! This could be a great activity to spend time with your family.

This year is unlike any other, but planning ahead can make sure your family stays financially healthy.

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