Sleigh the Holidays with a Plan for Purchases

There are less than 60 days left to get your holiday shopping done, and a new report shows many Americans are willing to do whatever it takes to increase the number of gifts under their trees this year. In fact, according to a new report from Trustpilot, two in five Americans are willing to spend less on food and gas now to have money for holiday gifts and a report from Yahoo! Finance claims people are planning on increasing their spending by 40 percent this year. Perhaps there are more names on the nice list than the naughty list, but inflation also factors into the increase in spending.

Regardless, planning ahead for holiday spending can still be an option if you start to bookmark your wish list now and do a little homework.

Obviously, you need to monitor the prices of items you plan to buy. Some apps and websites, like Google Shopping, offer price comparisons along with a price-tracking option. It's also a good idea to pay attention to shipping costs and take advantage of free shipping when you can. There is even a free shipping day where almost all online retailers waive charges; this year it is Thursday, December 14.

While 1 in 3 Americans are willing to rack up credit card debt to buy gifts, there are other options, such as using programs like Affirm, Klarna and Zip, that allow you to buy now and pay later at major retailers like Target, Walmart and even Dollar General.

Ultimately, it might prove smarter for you to secure a personal loan in order to avoid credit card debt. This also can be an excellent way to pay off that credit card debt that is still lingering from last holiday season. With a personal loan, lenders provide a lump sum amount that you repay over time, typically with fixed payments that remain the same. A personal loan will have a fixed term as well, usually of two to five years, but sometimes more. Personal loans can help you avoid increasing your debt because they do not offer ongoing access to funds like a credit card does. Typically, personal loans have a lower interest rate than credit cards, costing you far less over time. And while everyone likes a gift that keeps on giving, credit card debt is not something you want to keep accumulating. Interest and fees can add up and create a cycle of debt if balances are not paid up. Personal loans require you to make regular, predictable payments, helping you to stay on track.

Whatever your plans for the holiday season, staying focused on your spending and having a plan will be crucial to not getting carried away with the spirit of giving, landing you in a heap of financial despair at the start of the new year.