Fall is definitely in the air! The mornings are greeting us with crisp, cool air; the leaves are displaying vivid bright colors; and the days are getting shorter. As we settle in and adjust to the final quarter of 2018, retailers are changing their displays, decking their aisles and preparing for their busiest time of the year! And, this preparation just keeps getting earlier and earlier.
This year, Starbucks introduced their Pumpkin Spice Latte in August (its earliest official launch date ever) and in September, a stroll through Costco, Target and many other retailers, leaves you wondering if you should be shopping for Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas! All these fun and festive holiday displays are making consumers feel the stress of holiday shopping and we are only in October!
The reality is, we have entered the most expensive quarter of the year and retailers are ready to rake in the profits. Take a look at these facts:
According to the National Retail Federation, in 2017 Americans were expected to spend 9.1 billion or an average of $87 per household on Halloween loot and a whopping $691.9 billion or an average of $967 per household on Holiday Shopping. These figures have been steadily increasing over the past few years. Trick or Treat, I think the retailers have trained us how to deck the halls! So, how do you get through the most wonderful quarter of the year stress and debt free? Here are a few tips.
Set a budget: Determine the maximum amount you are willing to spend on each holiday. Set a budget for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas/Hanukkah. For Halloween this figure should include costumes, candy, and décor/parties. Thanksgiving should include meals, beverages, and travel. And, Christmas/Hanukkah should include gifts, parties, holiday cards, décor, travel, and food.
Make a list and check it twice: Make a detailed list now of everyone that you have to shop for and determine the maximum amount you can spend on each person. Once you have the list created, total the amount and see if the amount matches your budget for gifts. If it is too high, adjust the amount for each gift until the total matches the figure you set in your budget. If your family pulls names, pull names now and set the spending limit.
Shop early and shop smart:Once you know how much you want to spend on each individual, determine what you want to purchase and shop early. An early start will allow you to wait for sales, comparison shop online, and take advantage of cyber deals.
Stick to your list:When you go into a store to purchase a gift, stick to your list and avoid the temptation of purchasing more than you intended. When retailers offer deep discounts, it is easy to shop for one gift and leave with several items. Most of the time, these extra items are not on the list. Stick to your list to avoid overspending and exceeding your budget.
Rather than walk into retailers and feel stressed about getting your holiday shopping done now, relax, and use this time to prepare your holiday spending guide. Taking the time to do this simple planning task now will allow time to put money away for each holiday, shop at a relaxed pace, take advantage of sales, stick to your budget, and ring in the New Year without a holiday spending hangover.
Be sure to pick up next month’s copy of Alive Magazine to learn how to entertain on a budget!
For these and many more financial tips and money saving strategies, look for my new book “Digging Out” that will be available for purchase this fall (it makes a great Holiday gift). Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for launch dates, worksheets, and more!