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After more than a year of having nowhere to go and nothing to do, we’re itching to hit the road, restaurants and retail stores again. And with Americans sitting on a stockpile of savings – $1.7 trillion dating from the pandemic’s beginning through January 2021, as estimated by Bloomberg Economics – there are a lot of us with the means to go along with the motivation.

Get Ready for Revenge Spending

The impulse to go on a spending spree after living through a traumatic event – for which the global economic shutdown more than qualifies – has a name dating back to the 1980s: revenge spending.

Now that the world is returning to something closer to normal, a lot of us have the pent-up desire to make up for lost time and missed opportunities by splurging. Surveys report consumers are planning major expenditures, with travel, experiences and shopping among the top categories. Sporting events, concerts, luxury goods – all are fair game. This freewheeling feeling of suddenly spending on things you were unable to enjoy for so long can give you a regained sense of control.

Go Ahead, You Deserve It

While the pandemic has brought new budget challenges to many people, a large number of us improved our overall financial wellness during the lockdown.

Not commuting to the office meant having a few extra bucks each month to build up your emergency savings. Stimulus checks helped to pay down student loans and other debt. With nights out not in the plans, your credit card gathered a layer of dust.

Just like that, you’re sitting on a stockpile of savings with less debt than ever and a higher credit score to boot – which puts you in a good position to indulge a bit.

Don’t Let Revenge Consume You

Before you hit the town for your revenge spending escapade, take a second to note the positive financial habits you’ve started and the progress you’ve made. Is it exciting to see a bigger number on your bank statement? Do you feel at ease knowing you’re closer to being debt-free? Are you more confident in the future?

With the right plan, you can continue to build on those good vibes and still enjoy the pleasures of purchasing again. Here are a few revenge spending strategies that can help:

  • Prioritize. Think about what makes you truly happy, like travel, family activities, socializing with friends, a personal hobby, etc. You’ll get the most happiness from spending on things you value.
  • Budget for it. Splurging and budgeting don’t typically go together. But setting a limit for your revenge spending spree – you could even put your splurge money in a separate account – is a way to satisfy your urge for consumption without experiencing the hangover and regret that come with overspending.
  • Be aware of your buying patterns. Making a single extravagant purchase is one thing. An uncontrolled spending spree is another. Be smart about your spending – now and in any situation.
  • Slow down. It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of buying. Before you click the “buy now” button, let that item sit in your cart for 48 hours. This gives you a chance to take a breath and consider if that purchase is something you really want.

Your Credit Card Has Benefits – Use Them

If you finance your revenge purchases, do so wisely. Take advantage of your credit card rewards, such as reward points, low introductory or balance transfer rates, or cash back.

  • Reward yourself. With some cards, you earn a reward on purchases. For example, with the Key2More Rewards® credit card, you earn 5 points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases, with no caps. And you can redeem your points for travel, shopping, event tickets, gift cards, cash back and other ways to revenge spend.
  • Start low. Cards with low interest rates can help you repay debts or finance purchases. The KeyBank Latitude® credit card is one. It offers 0% APR for the first 15 billing cycles for purchases within the first 60 days after opening – and continued low APR for purchases and balance transfers.
  • Use the cashback advantage. With a cash back credit card, you can indulge by using the cash back you’ve accumulated – and continue to leverage the card to earn even more cashback as you spend.

    "Some cards have higher tiers – 4% or 5% cash back – for spending categories where consumers may not have as many purchases, which can be misleading," said Mitch Kime, Head of Consumer Lending & Payments at KeyBank. "Alternatively, cards like the Key Cashback® credit card provide 2% cash back in all categories, which is often more rewarding than a tiered system, as it better aligns with cardholders’ true spending habits."

    Cashback cards can potentially put hundreds of dollars back into cardholders’ own pockets each year, he noted. "This money can make a significant difference for anyone sticking to a budget – giving them more flexibility and allowing them to both manage their credit and pay down debt faster."

    A pro tip from Kime: "For big-ticket purchases, a low-rate card can help protect against high interest rates, but for everyday expenditures, a cashback card is often the best way to pay."

  • Use your credit card benefits for travel. Your credit card may also offer benefits to help protect you when you travel. KeyBank Mastercard credit cards, for example, provide a variety of safeguards, such as MasterRental® coverage.

Practice Safe Spending

With an increase in activity on your credit card and more money flowing out of your checking account during revenge spending, it’s more important than ever to be on the lookout for fraud. Protect yourself with these tips:

  • Set alerts. Use the Account Alerts feature in online banking or your KeyBank mobile app to track all transactions and activity on your accounts.
  • Use contactless payment. Use the tap-to-pay feature on your debit or credit card (or connect it to your smartphone’s digital wallet) to make it harder for thieves to steal your information.
  • Turn on security settings. Make sure the security settings for your accounts and cards are on and will notify you if an issue arises.

As we’ve all been witnessing with the pandemic, being smart with your money can take some of the stress out of tough times. Better yet, it can help you have more carefree enjoyment in good times too. For more tips on getting more out of your money, visit the Financial Wellness Center.

This material is presented for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individual tax or financial advice. KeyBank does not provide legal advice.

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