Monday, December 5, 2016

Merry Broke Christmas!!

Anybody can relate to the phrase: I can't afford it. Especially college students.

What do people actually spend on Christmas in the U.S.?

Here are some rather startling statistics:

To start the 'holiday season,' did you know people spent $350 Million on pet Halloween costumes last year?

Americans usually spend about $600 Billion on Christmas. Here is a rough breakdown per family:
  • Tree                     $  42.00
  • Cards and postage   32.00
  • Decorations             73.00
  • Food                        95.00
  • Travel                    960.00

Black Friday stats:

  • Amount spent on both Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, and Black Friday:   $4.45 Billion
  • Amount of that which was spent online       $2.72 Billion
What people are buying most of this year:
  • 4K TVs
  • Legos
  • Shopkin Dolls
  • Barbie Dream Houses

Some more stats...
  • Amount of business done using cell phones:   $1222 Million
  • Average amount spent per each person in the U.S.  $300.00
  • Amount the average family spends overall each Christmas   $750.00
  • Sadly, the amount usually spent in a year on books per family    $111.00  (not textbooks)

And your wallet says, "???!!!!!!

Here's an idea to help spend less and have gifts mean more: Narrow your categories. Maybe each child, for example, will receive:
  • One thing he/she needs (socks, pajamas)
  • One new pair of mittens and/or winter hat
  • One soft thing (teddy bear, blanket)
  • One thing to create with (paints, building)
  • One book
  • One thing the child simply wants

Remember the items you charge, you will indeed have to pay for. Be sure you do this infrequently, and plan to pay it off just as soon as you can. Use a credit card with a low interest rate but still avoid charging anything. It's too easy to amass a big debt, and you really cannot buy happiness.

Consider next year stashing away a certain amount every month so that by next Christmastime, you have a couple of hundred dollars to spend in cash. Lower what you consider 'needs'---you can still give, just give less and give more of yourself. Spend time with people, not money.

  • $10/month x 10 months (gives you time to shop ahead)   $100.00
  • $15/month x 10 months                $150.00
  • $30/month x 10 months                $300.00

See how it adds up? Some banks will set this up for you, or you can simply do it on your own as a monthly payment. Keeping it in the bank will help you resist the temptation to dip into it before you need it for Christmas, but you could keep it in an envelope on a high shelf.

The best way to spend less-sometimes- is to make simple gifts for people. Are you a good photographer? Have one of your pictures printed and framed for a gift. Do you cook something delicious? Food is always appreciated, and homemade is always better than store-bought. Can you build a simple item of wood? Sew? Knit? Do a craft? You might find an interesting glass jar and fill it with candy or other treats. Make a unique card to go with it, and you have a perfectly lovely gift. The satisfaction of giving something you worked on can be much better than wasting money, plus you can work on it at will and not have to fight the crowds in the stores-and not have several hundred dollars of credit card debt to deal with after the holidays.

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