Ben White via Unsplash

If you feel financially strapped as we enter the holiday season, you are not alone. (If you do not, count your blessings and give to a charity you love). Instead of blindly racking up credit card debt, experts suggest some thoughtful, data-based fiscal planning. It’s not as fun as accumulating debt, but when January rolls up, you’ll see.

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Researchers at WalletHub calculated the maximum holiday budget for each of 570 U.S. cities using five key characteristics of the population, such as income, age and savings-to-monthly expenses ratio.

While some suburbs such as Flower Mound, Allen and Frisco made it into the top 30 when it comes to Americans’ holiday budgets, you need scroll all the way down to No. 365 to find Dallas, where residents average just $787 holiday spending funds.

(If you’d like to crunch economic data by ZIP, we have found the specialists at, which draws from more than 20 sources such as U.S. census and realtor associations, helpful).

Source: WalletHub

Holiday sales last year grew 8.3% nationwide in the midst of a pandemic, and much of that was online shopping. The shift to online spending could prove beneficial or a trap, depending how we use it, according to business professor Jared Watson.

“The past 20 months have seen a proliferation of online shopping due to the pandemic. It would have probably taken a decade to get to the spending levels we see today without the pandemic. This means that we have more options and more information to shape our decisions than we do in the traditional brick-and-mortar purchase situations which means marketers have more diverse tools at their disposal to influence consumers.”

He suggests controlling spending with something like a prepaid credit card, just for holiday expenses.

The data analysts at the personal finance site also surveyed about 5,000 deals from 21 of the biggest U.S. retailers and ranked Black Friday savings by categories such as clothing or electronics.

Among stores in our neck of the woods that topped the list? Kohl’s (5750 Skillman), Macy’s (NorthPark Center), Nordstrom (NorthPark Center) and Office Depot (CityPlace).

Ideally, when you receive your December Advocate magazine this week, you’ll check out our list of local places with the best, most thoughtful gifts.