86% of millennials overspent on holiday gifts last year—here’s how to avoid the same mistakes

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’Tis the season to shop, and a new holiday survey from American Express Pay It Plan It found that 86% of millennials (23 to 38) spent more money during the holidays last year than they planned to. Of those who overspent, about one in five (21%) went over budget by approximately $500 or more.

Electronics (69%) were the most common gift that caused millennials to overspend, compared to children’s toys (57%), clothes (53%), jewelry (38%), food or drinks (33%) and other gifts (4%).

This holiday season, 88% of millennials expect to spend $100 or more on someone. Among those respondents, spouse/partners are most likely to receive more expensive gifts. See below for a breakdown of who else is expected to receive gifts worth $100 or more.

Make a budget

Half of millennials plan to make a budget when holiday shopping, but budgets don’t mean anything if you don’t follow them. And the majority of millennials (84%) say it’s harder than it sounds to stick to a holiday spending plan.

“Make a list of everyone you want to gift and how much you want to spend,” Lapin says. “Approach your holiday shopping just like you would approach a trip to the grocery store. Plan ahead, write a list and know what you are searching for so you are less prone to the pitfalls of online shopping.”

Redeem credit card rewards

If you accumulated a lot of credit card points over the past year, now is a good time to use them. Consider redeeming credit card rewards for gift cards, merchandise, cash (as a deposit into a bank account), travel or statement credits.

Some cards may even offer bonus rewards if you redeem through travel portals. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® offers 50% more value on points redeemed for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Look for deals

The survey found that 64% of millennials plan to shop for deals this holiday season. Many stores offer holiday door-busters, discounts when you spend a certain amount of money and special holiday-centric sales that can add up to increased savings.

Your credit card may also offer exclusive shopping discounts when you pay with an eligible credit card. American Express, Chase and Bank of America are three issuers that have rotating offers that typically give you either a percentage or set dollar amount of cash back, credited to your account. Activation is required and you must use your eligible card to complete the purchase.

Eligible cards include: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card. Learn more about how to save with exclusive credit card shopping discounts.

Credit card issuers may also offer extra rewards on purchases made through a special link via a shopping portal. In order to earn the extra rewards, you must use the link provided through you card issuer’s portal and pay with a qualifying credit card. Eligible cards include the Chase Sapphire Preferred® and Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card.

Avoid unnecessary purchases

If you have a habit of buying things you don’t really need try to avoid split-second purchases.

“Wait 24 hours before clicking ‘check out’ to give yourself a cooling off period,” says Lapin. “Put the item you’re looking at in your shopping cart, but don’t check out right away. After 24 hours do you still want it that bad? More often than not, you’re more ‘meh’ about it the next day.”

Information about the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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