Financial Matters

Holiday Spending Strategies

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It is hard to believe but the holiday shopping season is already upon us. Retailers seem to push the season earlier and earlier in an attempt to increase their bottom line. The day after Thanksgiving has come to be known as Black Friday, so named because this was the day of the year that companies’ sales finally put them in a profitable position.

For years the holiday shopping season kicked-off the day after Turkey Day. Now, instead of stores opening on that Friday at a reasonable 9am, stores start opening earlier and earlier, 6am sales, 5am door-busters. Customers start lining up outside stores for hours waiting to get in for a once-a-year deal. Family time is spent camped out to be the first in line. When retailers saw the consumer response and demand they responded by opening even earlier. Now many stores are opening on Thanksgiving night!Why wait until 5am Friday to open when the store can open and make money the night before starting at 5pm?

Now retailers are not waiting until November, instead they barely wait for Trick-or-Treating to end before hanging garland and tinsel. Stores are trying to capture as much of the holiday spending dollars as possible. Estimates for 2018 put consumer spending this holiday season at $1.1 trillion dollars according to the personal-finance website WalletHub. Yes trillion!

How much is $1.1 trillion? It is a million million, or a thousand billion. By comparison, Forbes lists Bill Gates’ net worth at$96.2 billion as of this month, and in April 2018 NBC News reported that Apple was worth $1 trillion dollars. By comparison, the USA has a gross national debt (that’s government debt and public debt combined) of around $20 trillion. (https://www.thecalculatorsite.com/articles/finance/how-much-is-a-trillion.php).

The National Retail Federation estimates that this year consumers will spend approximately $1007 per person. (https://www.nrf.com/insights/holiday-and-seasonal-trends/winter-holidays) This spending will be on a combination of gifts, food and deals just too good to pass up! The good news for merchants is this number is up about 4% from last year. For consumers the goal is to enjoy the holiday season and gift giving without overspending. With temptations all around, we need a holiday spending strategy!

Gifting is one of the pleasures of the holiday and merchants are eager to encourage us to buy. As consumers it is up to us to approach holiday spending with a plan. Overspending is easy to do so if this has been a problem in the past November is the time to make your holiday spending plan.

While it might be fun to shop with abandon and purchase whatever catches your eye this randomness can lead to chaos for your finances. Before heading out to shop start by determining what your holiday spending budget is for 2018. Just because the average person spends $1007 does not mean it is an appropriate amount for you and your family.

Ideally holiday spending is something that is planned for during the year. It is hard for the typical household budget to accommodate the additional spending coming strictly from cash flow. A great strategy is to set money aside each month so that when November and December arrive there is already money available.

Unfortunately with all the other demands on your money during the year this doesn’t happen so when the holidays arrive much of the expense is put on credit cards. As tempting as it can be this will make your 2019 start off with a barrage of stress inducing bills. Since the holidays can be stressful let’s finish the year with thoughtful spending that will lead to a great start to 2019.

1. Make a list of all the people you want to give a gift. Start by writing everyone you would like to include. If the list is too long before taking them off, consider changing the amount you spend per person. This may allow more people to stay on your list.
2. Determine the type of gift, homemade, store purchase, gift card, or a thoughtful gesture. Remember, not all gifts need to come with a gift receipt.
3. Determine how much you can comfortably spend this year. Remember generosity comes in many forms. You can be generous with your time and talent, not just your wallet.
4. Take your time to determine what your recipient would really appreciate. The sooner you start the better because it is hard to be creative while rushing through the aisles as the store is about to close.
5. Patronize local stores to support smaller shop owners by shopping on Small Business Saturday. These are great places to find beautiful gifts that can be individualized for your friend’s tastes and interests.
6. Save money by comparison shopping online using websites like Google Shopping, NexTag and PriceGrabber. A few minutes online could save a lot of money.
7. Always review the store’s return policy before making a purchase. You do not want to be stuck with store credit in a store you know you won’t shop in again.
8. Finally no matter what you plan on giving, wrap itbeautifully. Even the simplest gift should be presented in a beautiful manner. Your recipient will appreciate the care taken in the wrapping and that thoughtfulness becomes part of the gift.

Taking some extra time before you start your holiday spending will help keep you organized and will help keep your spending in line. Most importantly, keep a list of what you are buying each person. It might be tedious but you will be happy you did especially if you start your gift buying early. It’s easy to forget what you already bought. A list will also remind you of when you have reached your gifting budget limit. When that happens, congratulate yourself for sticking to your plan!

Asalyn Coachman is a Registered Representative of and offers Securities through The O.N. Equity Sales Company, Member FINRA/SIPC, 39395 W Twelve Mile Rd., Ste 102 Farmington Hills, MI 48331 (248) 482-3600.  Investment Advisory Services offered through O.N. Investment Management Company.  Financial Architects, Inc. is not a subsidiary or affiliate of The O.N. Equity Sales Company or O.N. Investment Management Company.

 

 

Asalyn Coachman is a Registered Representative of and offers Securities through The O.N. Equity Sales Company, Member FINRA/SIPC, 39395 W Twelve Mile Road, Ste. 102 Farmington Hills, MI 48331 (248) 482-3600. Investment Advisory Services offered through O.N. Investment Management Company. Financial Architects, Inc. is not affiliated with The O.N. Equity Sales Company or O.N. Investment Management Company.

Asalyn earned a degree in Economics from Harvard University and a law degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She lives in Lake Orion with her husband and two children where she is active in organizations such as the Harvard Club of Eastern Michigan, Lake Orion Schools, and the Baldwin Center of Pontiac, Michigan, where she serves as board president.

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