#AskBryant; Holiday Edition

#AskBryant; Holiday Edition

Holiday Spending!

As the year comes to an end, we are faced with one of the most wonderful times of the year, Christmas. The small twinkling lights wrapping around the top of the houses, the inflatable Santa Clauses, and the magical pine-scented trees. This time of the year is filled with love, giving, and appreciation. When you give to the less fortunate and to those that you love, you add to their lives and by adding to theirs, you add to yours too.

Unfortunately, the thought of “giving” to someone has been altered from significance to value. Christmas time is about giving, but that does not necessarily mean you need to spend all of your money on gifts. According to Investopedia, the average American is expected to spend a total of $650 on gifts for family, friends, and co-workers, and an estimated $998 in total expenses during Christmas time. This total is slightly less than in previous years with a 5% decrease in expenses. A large percentage of this money is spent on clothing, electronics, and makeup, but the real question is how can we reduce this large sum of money?

Looking at the national statistics, I decided to do some more research to see what our own students spend during Christmas time. I sent out a survey to the students of MAST to see what they like gifting, how much they spend, and whether they are satisfied with spending that much. On average, MAST students spend about $431 during the end-of-year holidays. This is lower than the national average but is still significantly high for high school students. After looking at what the students gifted others, it showed that on average, they would spend $431 on clothing and technology, which is specifically correlated to the national average of types of gifts given. Although this total sounds high, more than 42.2% of the respondents believe they spend just enough money, 31.1% believe they do not spend enough, and only a mere 26.7% consider what they spend to be too much. This statistic is incredibly surprising because so many of the students are satisfied with spending such a large sum of money on a holiday.

Now the question remains, what can you do to reduce your holiday spending and increase your quality of gifts?

For decades, many have believed that the quality of the gift is defined by the amount spent, but this is simply not true. The quality of the gift is dependent on the meaning behind it and that does not necessarily mean more money. Saving money and budgeting your spending is incredibly important… especially during the holiday season, where everyone is looking to spend money on gifts for their loved ones. Here are some tips and tricks that you can do to save a few dollars during the holiday season.

Budgeting & Tracking
Budgeting and tracking your spending can be difficult, especially when you want to give and give. To do this, it is important to write down the list of people you are giving a gift to, write down a gift for them (with the price), and calculate the total amount. It is crucial to not go over this set amount and to stick with what you have written. You can use apps such as Mint, EveryDollar, YNAB, and more, to track your spending and organize your remaining money accordingly.

Shop Early
This tip is useful if you know what you need to get! It can save lots of money to do your gift shopping beforehand; simply to ensure you get the best deals. Make a list of your gifts and purchase them year-round, to separate the amount of money you spend so it will not be all at once. Utilize sales throughout the year, such as Spring Break Sales, Summer Sales, and even Black Friday, to be able to maximize your gifts and minimize your spending.

Group Gift Exchanges
A lot of us are found in large groups of friends, it being schoolmates, co-workers, and more. It can get difficult to buy a gift for each individual person and it can get costly, because of this it can be useful to perform group gift exchanges. These things can be coordinated gift exchanges, where you designate a given person to another person in the group and you simply exchange the gift on Christmas day. You can also do a Secret Santa gift exchange, where you randomly select a name out of a jar and secretly give the person a gift. These two ideas can be incredibly effective for anybody struggling to buy something for an entire group; you can also set budget restrictions so that the entire group knows not to go over the selected amount.

Use Alternate Retailers
When we shop for gifts, we tend to go to expensive retailers, such as Macy’s, Target, among others, but buying gifts for many people, it can become challenging to spend so much in one of those places. It is a great idea to use alternative retailers such as TJ Max, Ross, Five Below, as well as online sites such as OfferUp, eBay, Craigslist, and more. These sites can be incredibly helpful to find items on sale for less than the expected retail price. You can also find items on sale with up to fifty to even seventy-five percent off.

DIY Gifts
There is an old saying that goes, “It is the thought that counts”, and sometimes this can be more than true. The thought of Christmas shopping is not to spend hundreds of dollars on gifts, the idea of it is to give something meaningful to someone to show them your appreciation. DIY gifts are perfect for that. DIY stands for Do It Yourself and this can consist of anything from making clothing, jewelry, entertainment, and more! You can buy the materials at your local Dollar Tree and use them to make something enjoyable for your friends and family at a low cost.

Last but not least, it is important to understand that money does not equate to happiness because money has no friend. The time that you spend with someone is what will bring you the satisfaction and happiness that you deserve. We all understand that sometimes the money is not there to spoil those around you, but you are there to be with them and you can help them feel whole. Never lose sight of the idea that giving your time to someone is worth more than any item you can buy in stores. Christmas is about giving to those you love most and there is no better way to show that than to love and care for them.