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Budgeting for the Holiday Season

December 9, 2022

Woman using calculatorWith a few weeks left in December, many consumers are in the process of wrapping up their holiday shopping list. The question is, how many of those consumers have set a budget for this season, and how does that process work?

According to Muskegon Community Choice Member Center Manager Courtney Porrett, one of the most important tips for holiday shoppers is to set a budget and be disciplined in what you spend. Despite low unemployment, inflation and rising interest rates have put a dent in the pocketbooks of all consumers, but that doesn’t mean they have to eliminate names from their gift list.

shopping iconWhile Black Friday and Cyber Monday have passed, December remains the busiest shopping month of the year for most brick-and-mortar and online retailers, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Despite some challenging economic headwinds, the NRF forecasts that holiday retail sales during November and December will grow between 6- 8 percent over 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion, signifying a healthy increase over last year.

Every consumer and household are in a different situation, but planning is key, no matter what your budget is, Porrett says. For those who haven’t yet mapped out a list of who they will buy gifts for this year, the time is now. Creating a budget for each segment of your gift list, such as immediate family members, other family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues is advisable.

Here are additional tips from Porrett to help you with budgeting for the December shopping season:

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Be Disciplined

Your gift list members won’t care about how much you spend on them, so spend what you can afford. That could include two smaller items rather than a big item for family members or bringing in a sharable food item with a large group of co-workers. Remember, it’s the thought and the fact that you are showing others how important they are to you that counts. 

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Set Realistic Limits

You can only be disciplined if you are realistic with what should be spent on each person for your “nice” list. We all love our Aunt Judy, but she is just as likely to appreciate a small gift card, or even a homemade gift as a top-label piece of clothing. Keep in mind your kids, nieces/nephews and grandchildren may gravitate more to less expensive toys, and often lose interest in a toy (no matter its cost) within weeks or less. Set limits accordingly.

Don’t Be Fooled by Credit Card “Offers”

Opening a new credit card to take advantage of a cash offer sounds too good to be true – often because it is. That new credit card could put a large dent on your credit rating and might even come with an interest rate of more than 25 percent. Utilize existing credit cards and the points accumulated through them to save money while working to pay them off as quickly as possible.

The reality is that preparing for the holiday shopping season – or other large purchases for the year – should start in January, Porrett says. Consider it one of your New Year’s resolutions.

Targets iconCommunity Choice offers a Targets feature for members where a dollar amount can be set for a future purchase. By creating Targets for some of your larger annual expenses, you can discover how much money you will want to save from each paycheck or each month to meet your target goal. It could relieve some of the holiday season stress, and even the post-holiday season blues when the bills are due.

Contact Us iconFor questions or guidance with your finances and budgeting, contact Porrett or a member of her team at the Community Choice member center on Estes Street in Muskegon. You can also reach any of our 22 statewide member centers online or by calling 877.243.2528. We hope you have a safe, happy and healthy holiday shopping season!