Being pennywise and pound foolish will cost you more in the long run
Posted by: Howard Dvorkin, CPA
Date of post: December 12, 2016

I love November and December, but I fear January.

For a personal finance counselor like myself, the holidays definitely aren’t the most wonderful time of the year.

I don’t meant to sound like a Grinch, but if your job was reading all the financial reports I do, you wouldn’t feel so jolly, either.

For example, the credit bureau Experian recently asked 1,000 adults some tough questions about holiday shopping. The most depressing result…

Fifty-six percent of those surveyed say they spend too much during the holiday season, while 55 percent say they feel stressed about their finances during the holidays.

You might think that financial stress would lead to some aggressive action. Not so. Experian noted, “Most consumers don’t create budgets and are unprepared to cover added expenses beyond gifts, such as postage costs, hostess gifts, gift-wrapping supplies and greeting cards.”

In fact, “Failure to develop a budget (62 percent of survey respondents) is a main detractor from holiday enjoyment.”

So why don’t these otherwise smart Americans just buckle down and budget? Yet another study reveals why: “43 percent of Americans feel pressure to spend more than they can afford during the holiday season,” says SunTrust bank in a new poll of more than 3,00 adults.

That’s 4 percent higher than in 2014, when SunTrust started asking people about overspending for the holidays.

Here’s some quick advice on how to save for the holidays…

Come January, the bills come due. Then the financial stress really kicks in. Even if you’ve already blown this year’s holiday budget, it’s not too late to avoid the New Year’s money blues.

January is the busiest month for credit counseling. I urge you to call one of these nonprofits soon as you can — even before next month. can hook you up with one that adheres to our Code of Ethics by calling 1-800-810-0989. If you don’t call us, call someone reputable. (Check the Better Business Bureau to make sure they have an A-plus rating, and make sure they’ve been in business for at least a decade or two.)

What would fill me with cheer by this time next year: Reading the next round of the Experian and SunTrust surveys, and finding Americans have finally learned that overspending in December means a lump of coal in their stockings in January.