Money

Here’s the No. 1 thing Americans would sacrifice to afford more holiday shopping

The holiday season is almost here and Americans are ready to spend. In fact, more than 53 percent say they would give up going out to eat if it meant they could afford more shopping.

And dining out is one of their favorite things to do.

The data comes from Student Loan Hero, which conducted a survey of more than 1,000 Americans on their holiday shopping plans. Overall, 21 percent of the respondents say they would set spending limits on entertainment or travel in order to rein in holiday-related costs.

In addition to giving up some fast-casual meals, 49 percent say they'd give up vacationing and 43 percent would give up drinking. But a few luxury items aren't all they're willing to sacrifice.

For respondents with student loans, specifically, 40 percent have thought about skipping a loan payment if it meant they could better afford holiday costs. And, 33 percent have even taken out personal loans to expense their holiday spending.

That could be due to borrowers, overall, wanting to spend more this season. The survey found that 55 percent of those with student loan debt expect to increase their spending from 2016, compared to 37 percent of those without student loans who plan to do the same.

Daniel Levine, a trends expert and director of the Avant-Guide Institute, offers an explanation: "People who already have debt are more likely to continue using debt," he says in the survey.

"They also might feel like credit cards or personal loans are their best options because student loan payments take such a huge chunk of their disposable income."

Nearly 69 percent of respondents with student loan debt plan to use a credit card for holiday shopping compared to 45 percent of those without debt. And, one-third of those with loan debt expect to spend more than $500 on a credit card, according to the survey.

If you plan on shopping: Set a realistic budget, and try not to exceed it. The survey says 48 percent of all respondents set a goal amount to spend on each person they're buying for. This could help keep your spending in check, as long as you don't set the limits too high.

Consider using cash. Research shows it's "more painful" watching paper bills disappear than swiping away digital funds, so using cash could lead to spending less.

If you plan to use a credit card, though, don't spend more than you can pay off. If you can't pay your balance in full each month, according to financial expert Tom Corley, you might be living beyond your means and need to cut back.

And lastly, if you're looking for some great gifts that won't break the bank, check out these 25 items for under $25.

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