Money Smarts Blog

Holiday Debt: HO-HO-How Much Did I Spend?

Jan 10, 2024 || Jennifer Taflinger, Financial Coach

Santa holding cell phone with shocked look

By now, the gifts have been unwrapped, the stockings have been put away, the bathroom scale seems to be broken (you know, after all those yummy cookies and pies …). The magic of the holiday season has come and gone.

But that doesn’t mean the holiday debt’s disappeared along with it. A quick peek at your recent stack of bills might have you thinking, “Ho-ho-hold up! I spent HOW MUCH on the holidays?!”

That, my friend, is known as Santa Shock. You know, that sinking feeling when you realize you still have to pay off all those fabulous gifts you got for your kids/family/friends. Been there — and I know I’m not alone. According to Clever Real Estate’s 2022 holiday shopping data, two out of three Americans admit to over-shopping during the holiday season.

If you forgot to trim your budget along with your tree, we’ve got some tips on recovering from that not-so-jolly Santa Shock.


If you’ve been left with a holiday spending hangover, consider challenging yourself to a no-spend month (beyond necessities, of course). That means trimming down your Uber Eats orders, removing after-work happy hours from your weekly routine and saying “sayonara” to mindless late-night scrolling on your Amazon app.


If that little plastic card got Santa in a little too much trouble, start by tackling the credit card with the highest interest rate first. Making consistent, on-time payments that are more than the minimum will help your balance steadily go down. You can also consider a balance transfer, which offers a low or zero interest promotional period. Give us a “jingle” if you’re interested!


This is a good idea any time of year, but especially after the holidays. Plus, budgeting is the best way to track your spending habits and eliminate anything that’s keeping you from reaching your financial goals.

Don’t know how to get started? Schedule a check-up with one of our Financial Coaches. You can also learn strategies, tips and tools to create (and stick to) a budget and reach your goals through our Creating a Budget Compass Playlist.


Avoid Santa Shock next year by setting your holiday budget now. That way, you can stash away a little from each paycheck or a certain amount every month so you’re better prepared.

Setting those savings goals for next season can also help you make smarter decisions throughout the year and really think about the things you’re spending money on.

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