by Lynn Viesti Berube
In an analysis from American Research Group, shoppers across America are planning to spend on average $882 on holiday shopping this year. Yet, in a survey from GoBankingRates, it was found that 62 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings accounts. The picture being painted here is that many consumers will spend beyond their means this December. But finding gifts for family and friends in celebration of the season shouldn’t have to break the bank.
Here are three ideas to help ensure you’ll still have a jingle in your pocket once you’ve finished your holiday shopping.
1. Check daily deal sites for whole-family experiences. Instead of wrapping up another sweater or tool this season, why not up your game and thrill your loved ones with the gift of a unique experience? Daily deal sites like Groupon or Living Social offer group discount rates on activities ranging from glass-blowing classes to helicopter tours of New York City. By getting your whole family—or those distant relatives—on board, you can qualify for great deals and share in a truly original gift that will create memories that will long outlive the latest electronic gadget or pair of slippers.
2. Do your holiday shopping year-round. One big reason that financial stress weighs so heavily on our shoulders during the holidays is that most of our annual shopping takes place during just six to eight weeks, straining monthly budgets. So, why not keep an eye out for holiday gifts throughout the course of the year instead? This can enable you to make purchases at more manageable increments, avoiding a huge cash outlay in a short time frame that may constitute use of your credit card and the potential for additional costs in the way of interest. Take the year, too, to take advantage of retail sales as they occur.
3. Do it yourself. Do you sew or paint? Are you a carpenter? Whatever your craft, you may be able to think of someone on your shopping list who would love what you can produce by hand. Many recipients will appreciate the personal touch that such gifts deliver. At the same time, you save your hard-earned money, as purchasing the materials required to create your handiwork typically costs less than purchasing the same item in a store. Then, you can use the money saved to offset other purchases, like one of the group activities mentioned above. In other words, pay the DIY method forward.
If you’re one of the many Americans who are letting holiday shopping adversely affect your savings, keep these tips in mind to ease some of the stress it is causing you and your wallet. For more advice on managing your finances, come to any office of The Milford Bank or visit our website here.