The 2022 holiday season is officially underway, and inflation has people shopping much more carefully than in past years. The average household plans to spend about the same amount while prioritizing social experiences and gifts for others, according to a survey by financial firm Deloitte. To help prepare consumers in Oregon and Southwest Washington for an increasingly expensive holiday season, OnPoint Community Credit Union offers tips for spreading cheer without breaking the bank.
“Focusing on bringing joy to others this holiday season can help temper the ongoing financial impacts of inflation,” says Meredith Bureau, Manager of OnPoint’s Hillsdale Branch. “With a little planning and creativity, you can set yourself up for a festive yet cost-conscious holiday season. Create a budget, track your spending and get creative with your gift-giving. Making gifts or purchasing vintage items encourages a sense of community, saves money, and is more sustainable.”
Here are OnPoint’s 10 tips for a joyful but affordable holiday season:
- Create a holiday budget and stick to it: Have a serious talk with your family about what you can spend this year. Create a holiday budget by writing down and adding up every holiday-related expense, from hosting and travel, to special dinners, gifts and decorations. If the total is more the than the number you initially wrote down, prioritize your list and cut where possible. Once you set your budget, stick to it by tracking every holiday-related expense to avoid going over. If you share responsibility for gift buying with a partner, check your budget together regularly.
- Curtail non-holiday extras now: Review your current spending. Can you hold off on dining out, delay large household purchases, limit travel, or pause regular nights at the movies, concerts or sports events? Doing so could free up a little extra cash for your holiday budget. OnPoint offers several online tools to help you identify where to make relatively painless cuts.
- Cull your gift list: Determine gift-giving strategies with the people you’ll be spending the holidays with in advance. Cull your list by buying gifts only for children, drawing names or regifting in an exchange of second-hand items. Inflation is impacting every budget, requiring us all to reevaluate our spending. Be honest with the people in your life about wanting to pare down this year—they will likely be thinking the same.
- Want, need, wear, read: Considerlimiting the number of gifts you give your children by following the “want, need, wear, read” approach. Each child gets four gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. Determine how much you can spend on each child when you create your holiday budget and allot a specific amount to each category. Gifting in this way will ensure you don’t break your budget and help your kids be more cognizant about what they already have and what they really want.
- Shop smart, not early: It seems logical that consumers who shop early in the season will spread their purchases out, find bargains and ease budget pressure. But Deloitte found in 2021✎ EditSign that those who begin shopping in October or earlier spend more than those who hold off until Thanksgiving when many of the sales begin. Unlike last year, shelves should be well-stocked, making it less risky to wait for prices to drop. Start monitoring prices on must-have gifts early, so you’re ready to pounce when a good deal arises. If an item on your list goes out of stock, consider buying a gift card so the recipient can use it when the store restocks.
- Get creative: Look for treasures at a local vintage store, flea market or thrift store. Regift presents that may not have suited you to someone who will love them. Are you crafty or artistic? Skip the expensive checkout at the mall or online and make your gifts at home. Or follow the lead of Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond: bake a big batch of cinnamon rolls and deliver them to friends and co-workers.
- Send cards: Replace gifts with thoughtful holiday messages; that way, you can still send holiday greetings to those who have fallen off your gift list. Slipping a photo or two of your family in the card can make the special delivery even more meaningful.
- Donate to a non-profit on someone’s behalf: The number of people living in “extreme poverty” worldwide increased by 115 million in 2021. Now more than ever, people must have access to the social services needed to survive. As non-profits work tirelessly to meet a growing need, consider donating to a non-profit organization on behalf of your loved ones or colleagues instead of purchasing material gifts. Sending them a card letting them know you donated in their name will not only brighten their holiday, but also impact a worthy cause and maximize your tax deduction.
- Establish new traditions: Shift from buying gifts to hosting meaningful get-togethers that don’t require you to plan a big meal. Try hosting a potluck for dinner or a cookie exchange in the afternoon with coffee and hot chocolate. Organize a book or an ornament exchange. They don’t need to be complicated or perfect, just something that will create fond memories.
- Plan for next year: Open a checking and debit account specifically for vacation or holiday spending and set up an automatic deposit from each paycheck. Hide it from yourself in your online banking system so you’re not tempted to draw from it over the year. You’ll be surprised how quickly the deposits add up, giving you a cushion as you enter the next holiday season.
All of us are watching our budgets more carefully this holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you must give up on giving entirely. These tips are a great place to start, and if you’d like more personalized help creating a budget or ways to monitor your spending, visit any of OnPoint’s 55 branch locations where our knowledgeable staff are ready to find the solution that works best for you and your family.
ABOUT ONPOINT COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION
Founded in 1932, OnPoint Community Credit Union is the largest credit union in Oregon, serving more than 500,000 members and with assets of $9.1 billion. OnPoint membership is available to anyone who lives or works in one of 28 Oregon counties (Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Polk, Sherman, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington, Wheeler and Yamhill) and two Washington counties (Skamania and Clark) and their immediate family members. More information is available at www.onpointcu.com or 800-527-3932.