HOLIDAY SHOPPING AND SPENDING
Written By: Austin Lins
$465 billion... That is what the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates as the total of what American’s will spend during the holiday season. Let me write that out for you: $465,000,000,000 or almost half a trillion dollars. Big number, right? That means, if we assume that there are 327 million people in the United States, that means each person will spend roughly $1,400 on a variety of different items this holiday season, with gifts making up a good amount of this estimate. A recent Gallup poll shows that American’s plan to spend an average of $942 on gifts alone in 2019. Does this seem like too much? Too little? Everyone is going to spend money differently this holiday season, but let’s look at some common good practices for you to keep in mind: budgeting and gift alternatives.
You’ve probably heard about budgeting for gifts before so, I am not going to talk about any complex or tricky ways to budget. The main goal is to set a budget and stick with it. Where/how would you start? If you do not already have a monthly budget of your income and expenses, it is a good idea to create one. (If interested, I have an itemized monthly budget on excel that works great- email me and ask for it!). In a monthly budget, you will want to record your net income and calculate all your expenses. After subtracting your expenses, this will help to determine what your net gain/loss will be for the month. From this amount, and by knowing what you have in savings, you can create a holiday budget. This is a great start by helping to see what you can spend; keep in mind your monthly budget and how much net gain you can add back to your savings (or pay on credit card balances). Next, make a list of who you need to shop for, what they want, and how much it will cost. Writing this out to compare costs to your budget is a great idea. This step is very important - you must stick to your budget and the amount of funds you have allocated. There are always other options if you see you are going over budget.
Other than material and expensive items, there are alternatives that make great gifts. Keep in mind that the season of giving does not have to be material. Try just giving your time by helping someone out or even just being there for someone. This can be through volunteering or even spending time with family and friends. If you are looking to give something material, you can try being creative and making them something; I personally love this and there are so many ideas you can find online to customize something for not a lot of money for that someone special. Either way, you are still giving something that will mean a lot to someone.