Holiday survival tips from 5 financial pros


For Ryan Decker, surviving the holiday shopping season is all about planning ahead. In fact, if she finds a gift for one of her two sons in March, she’ll go buy it, instead of running through her shopping list in December.

“It really lightens the load,” he said, making his December bills cheaper because he spreads the cost of the holidays throughout the year.

Decker, a certified financial planner and director of the Financial Intelligence Center at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, says that without this type of advance planning, expenses can quickly exceed budget. ‘this year. “Purchasing power is going down, so once you throw in the holiday season, it’s a very stressful time.”

Financial educators like Decker are often busy during the holiday shopping season, sharing tips with their audience on how to avoid debt and save money while on the go. party. We asked five of them how they personally go about the season with their money.

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“I know I’m going to budget so I don’t suffer after the holidays,” says Christine Whelan, a clinical professor of consumer science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She makes a list of what she needs to buy gifts and gives each gift a spending budget.

Part of that strategy means limiting purchases to what they can do with savings rather than turning to credit card debt, Whelan said. “One of the ways we use our limited resources to increase our happiness is to pay off now, instead of paying off our credit cards in February, which is detrimental to our financial and emotional health. .”

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Jerry Graham, co-founder of Atlanta-based website, told his brother he prefers handmade gifts this year. “He is very talented in art and woodworking, I told him that I would appreciate a piece of wood or something else. DIY gifts are memorable and from the heart,” he said. It is often can also save money, and Graham knows his brother is on a budget.

Similarly, Felipe Arevalo, community outreach coordinator at the San Diego Financial Literacy Center, collects family photos throughout the year, then, when he sees a promo code pop up, then create a photo calendar for family members. “I got this idea from my husband’s uncle, but no one in my family has done it,” he said. Not only does it save money, but it helps the family keep in touch and see the growth of their 4 and 9 year old sons.

DIY strategies also apply to children. Whelan says, “I encourage my children to give coupons for gifts, not things. Children can give cards for walking the dog or other chores, cooking dinner for the family, even pasta or babysitting. It teaches kids to think about other people, not just buy their way out of a gift.”

Think beyond the holiday season

The holiday season is a good time to start financial planning for the year ahead, says Bruce McClary, a spokesman for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “Right now, I’m putting together a plan of financial goals and priorities for 2023,” he said. Focusing on things like travel plans or savings goals helps put your vacation expenses in perspective. “You can opt out of advertising and marketing-related emails,” he says, but it’s not your biggest concern.

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One of the biggest obstacles to achieving your financial goals is debt, which can easily accumulate during the holiday season. In fact, the 2022 Holiday Shopping Report from NerdWallet found that nearly a third of last year’s holiday shoppers who used a credit card to buy gifts (31%) still pay the credit card amount.

Given the current economic climate and rising interest rates, McClary said, “It’s probably a better idea than ever to avoid relying on mortgages.” loans and credits to read the holiday season, and to be as informed as possible about spending money. you have.”

Graham applies a similar approach to Decker, but with a stock. “We’ve been investing since January,” he said. He and his wife, Sara, estimate their vacation expenses based on last year’s expenses, then divide by 12 and set aside that amount in a designated savings account each month. using automatic transfers.

“In December, we have enough money to pay for the holiday expenses, including decorations, food and gifts,” she said. This was especially helpful this year, as their income fluctuated due to job changes. Controlling your expenses this year will allow you to start this process in 2023.

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This column was provided to The Associated Press by personal finance website NerdWallet. Kimberly Palmer is NerdWallet’s financial expert and author of “Smart Mom, Rich Mom.” email: [email protected] Twitter: @KimberlyPalmer.

NerdWallet: 2022 Holiday Shopping Report

This survey was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of NerdWallet from September 15-19, 2022 online, among 2,075 US adults aged 18 and over, of which 1,751 plan to buy a gift. this holiday season (2022 holiday shoppers). Harris online poll samples are measured using Bayesian confidence intervals. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within +/- 2.8 percent using the 95% confidence level.

“Holiday shoppers” refers to Americans planning to purchase gifts during the 2022 holiday season. “Holiday season” refers to the period between September 15 and the end of 2022.

We used U.S. Census Bureau population estimates and survey results to estimate the number of Americans planning to buy gifts this holiday season, as well as their total spending gift and the total cost of gifts offered by credit card.

We used the most recent annual average data from the Federal Reserve of St. Louis (18.43% until August 2022) to calculate the total interest on the credit card.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, reproduced or distributed without permission.


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