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Financially Preparing for the Holidays

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With it being a few short days until Christmas and nearly two weeks since the end of Hannukah, it’s a little late to be “preparing” for the holidays. That, however, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be financially prudent in the waning few days before the crescendo. I saw the results of a recent myFICO holiday study (packaged up into a pretty infographic) that gave me greater insight into the American shopper this holiday season. myFICO is a part of Fair Isaac Corporation, originator of the FICO credit score.

Tightening the Belt

I wasn’t surprised that 75% of people would be changing holiday traditions because of the economy – that’s just smart. The holidays are important not because of what we spend in dollars, but in what we spend in terms of time. If you’re used to spending a ton and you’re feeling the pinch, it’s certainly prudent to tighten up this year. You can always have a blowout holiday season next year, when things get better.

Budgeting

The scariest statistic from the infographic, which is something that’s hard to counter right now, is the fact that 58% of people do nothing to prepare for the added bills coupled with the fact that half of respondents charged an average $100-500 more. That’s the equivalent of a small emergency! One of your New Year’s Resolutions should be to budget for the extra spending during the holidays by starting a savings fund, preferably in a high yield savings account, and contribute to it every single month. That way, when it’s time to spend, you can pay it off immediately.

Finally, to the 10% of people who sign up for an in-store credit card for the 10% discount – avoid it if you’re going to get a loan. A hard inquiry dings your score and you’ll be paying far more in interest later on.

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9 Responses to “Financially Preparing for the Holidays”

  1. Scott says:

    Its too bad that our economy is based on a “holiday season”. If you don’t go into debt for a buch of gifts, celebration and pomp, your stocks will drop and you’ll be sad then…either way you lose.

  2. agree with what Scott says.

    still, things will change, and maybe the rotten economy will get us back toward valuing other stuff more? that’s what we keep hoping, anyway. merry christmas!

  3. zapeta says:

    The key for the holidays for me is to budget throughout the year. If I set aside 20 or 30 dollars each month for gifts by December I have enough saved to buy everything. I also have a limit to what I can spend. When the money from the Christmas account is gone, its gone.

  4. Paul Miller says:

    Big change from years gone by, this is the first Christmas I can remember having to really change habits in spending and budget. After starting a new company in July, buy low sell high. Great time to get into business but thats only if you can make it through the first year of going back to the College basics … ramen noodles and snaggin toilet paper from McDonalds to get by. Ha .. not really but yes this is a really different year for all of us. I get your blogs over my phone and coupled with many others it gets me through the week. Thanks!

  5. govenar says:

    “58% of people do nothing to prepare for the added bills” doesn’t mean very much. If someone was always financially responsible and saving money, they wouldn’t need to do anything special to prepare for holiday bills; and if someone was living paycheck to paycheck already they wouldn’t have any extra money to save, so not much they can do to prepare (but maybe those people shouldn’t be spending a lot of money for the holidays).

  6. govenar says:

    Another line from the graphic that’s not very meaningful: “Only 15% said they use cash to pay for holiday shopping”. I think it’s obvious that people prefer credit cards for convenience, rewards, etc; this doesn’t tell how prepared someone is to pay the bills. I guess it’s more of an advertising thing for Fair Isaac.

  7. Shirley says:

    Our family gave up on Christmas gift giving (except for the youngest kids) several years ago. We have a day-long potluck family get-together on the Sunday before the 25th and the kids open small gifts.

    Rather than shop for the grandchildren, I deposit $50 in each of their savings accounts. One grandson, who I swear was a saver from birth, saved every money gift he ever got from anybody and bought a new pickup as soon as he got a drivers’ license at 16.

  8. mitzi says:

    I have been on a financial diet for the past 3 years. Christmas has become a time of making inexpensive gifts and or buying inexpensive toys especally for the younger children at discount stores the older ones what till the sales after christmas.

  9. kennethdickson says:

    I wouldn’t think that if you make an honest mistake that it should be a real problem, if you ‘fess up.

    Taxes aren’t always an exact science… in fact, there is some leeway.

    Each year I go to the tax office, I do my best to follow the tax rules (and even use ‘official’ software) and the numbers are crunched differently each time.

    I gave up trying to do it ‘exactly’… the system doesn’t seem designed to do that!

    I wouldn’t sweat the small stuff of under reporting your expenses/overreporting your charitable donations. It’s not a sin to be inaccurate, if it’s not done willfully.

    Happy 2011.


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