GreenPath: less could be more this holiday season
FARMINGTON HILLS, MI (November 4, 2021) — As we enter the holiday season, conversations continue about rising prices and potential product shortages expected during the holidays. The business sector is encouraging consumers to ‘not wait until Black Friday’ to begin holiday shopping. Affirm research shows that 48% of 2,000 surveyed consumers intend to spend more money on the 2021 holidays due to COVID-19’s impact on 2020 celebrations. Seven in 10 respondents said they typically go over budget during the holidays.
A major pain-point this year for businesses is a kink in their supply chain – a backlog at U.S. ports. Late last month, the Port of Los Angeles, which handles 40% of U.S. imports, is facing a record backlog. U.S. consumers are now facing the “Everything Shortage,” which leads to higher prices for food, fuel, furniture, cars and holiday gifts. Pair this with many consumers’ psychological need to ‘make the holiday special,’ buyers could be facing a financial minefield.
“It’s easy to get wrapped up in the commercialism of the season, but overspending can place a financial strain on individuals and families well into the new year, and beyond.” said GreenPath Financial Wellness CEO Kristen Holt. “It’s important to set a realistic budget for spending. Focusing on non-traditional gifts, the joy of experiences and the resulting memories, can be just as rewarding without damaging your finances, especially as prices on essentials are rising.”
National nonprofit GreenPath Financial Wellness encourages people to consider if (spending) less could be more this holiday season? The team at GreenPath suggests consumers rethink their holiday plan, set a budget and stick with it, and take concrete steps to avoid excess holiday debt. Ways to celebrate the season in a budget-conscious way include:
Create a Holiday Spending Plan
Write down a holiday budget that includes all planned spending – food, décor, travel, gifts, etc. This can help you see how much income you’ll need, set spending limits, and relieve uncertainty and financial stress. Had to use your Christmas Club savings earlier in the year for an unexpected expense? Take advantage of seasonal work opportunities to help finance holiday spending.
Simplify the Season
This year, consider simplifying celebrations and find alternative ways to revel in the season. Resist the urge to splurge on decorating and large parties and choose to gather with family and friends without breaking your budget. As gas and grocery prices are expected to increase, rethink the elaborate (and costly) holiday dinner and invite your loved ones to ‘meet in the middle’ for a more informal get-together. In lieu of hard-to-get items, gift an experience, a family portrait or an online class. Open a 529 savings plan for the kids – the gift that gives long-term.
Volunteer in Someone’s Name
Celebrate those you love by giving back. Volunteer at a friend or loved one’s favorite charity or provide a contribution on their behalf. Gift some elbow grease at a local Meals-on-Wheels, community center, humane society, or nonprofit organization that could use your help.
Thanksgiving gatherings could be the time to communicate this year’s holiday plan. Such conversations can relieve stress for all involved and avoid undue disappointment. A recent survey shows that small children thrive in environments with fewer toys. Research shows that clutter can impact mental well-being in adults, particularly women, and possibly spark increased levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
Should you decide to purchase gifts, shop early and keep your receipts. Monitor sales, price compare and review return policies, in case a retailer lowers the price for the item later in the season. Should you use credit this holiday season, look for zero or low-interest payment options. If shopping online, in-store pickup may cut down on shipping costs. Look out for holiday shopping scams and leverage fraud protection via PayPal and credit cards. Use browser extensions (i.e., Honey, Rakuten or Capital One Shopping) for additional savings. By “abandoning” your online shopping cart for 24-72 hours, the retailer may grant you a discount or perk. Or you might change your mind and decide you really don’t “need” the purchase.
While gift giving is a long-standing holiday tradition, spending time with family and friends after months of pandemic isolation may be the most meaningful gift of all. If anyone feels overwhelmed by rising prices and stressed by debt, contact GreenPath at 866-648-8122 or visit www.greenpath.org.
About GreenPath Financial Wellness
As one of the largest financial counseling agencies in the nation, GreenPath Financial Wellness has assisted millions of people with debt and credit management, student loans, homeownership and foreclosure prevention. Headquartered in Michigan, GreenPath and its affiliates work directly with individuals, banks, credit unions and employer partners across the U.S. from more than 33 locations and through phone access and online tools. GreenPath is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Michigan Diversity Council, Texas Diversity Council, and is accredited by the Council on Accreditation. To learn more, visit www.greenpath.org or call 866-648-8122. Follow the nonprofit on Facebook and Instagram @greenpathfinancial and on Twitter @GreenPath.