According to the National Retail Federation’s annual Holiday Spending Survey, three main categories make up the bulk of spending: $608.06 for gifts; $218.08 for items such as food, decorations, flowers and greeting cards; and $140.99 for other non-gift items consumers buy for themselves and their families. Here are some resources and suggestions that may help you navigate common economic pitfalls this season and thrive in the New Year!
Shopping (In Store)
No matter where you are doing your shopping, whenever possible, make and bring a list! It’s not foolproof, but doing a little legwork ahead of time, like price comparing, will give you a better chance of navigating the aisles without getting too distracted or giving into impulse purchases. This might end up saving you time and money — a win-win! If you do give into temptation and realize later it was a bad idea, that’s what receipts are for.
Consider using price comparison apps and websites like Google Shopping, which tops this list of the 15 most popular comparison shopping websites. Also, carve out some time to take a look at coupon websites like RetailMeNot and Coupons, as well as Groupon, LivingSocial which are designed help you find local coupons and deals. Always shop local when you can! It’s one of the best ways to help support your community. Lucky for Northern New Jersey residents, between major shopping centers like the Garden State Plaza and Willowbrook Mall, and myriad retail plazas and standalone shops across Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, and Passaic counties and neighboring areas, there’s no shortage of local holiday shopping options! Remember to always take steps to protect yourself when shopping online.
If you’re hosting a holiday meal, keep an eye on local circulars and particularly the Sunday papers, which generally have inserts full of coupons. Grocery stores often include coupons in their own inserts prior to the start of each week. If you frequent a particular supermarket, find out if there are seasonal spending incentives where you can earn a free ham, turkey or other common food staples around this time.
If it’s feasible for your guests, consider a potluck meal, or BYOB to keep costs down a bit. This is also a nice way to incorporate variety, and satisfies those who want to contribute something. Click here for more tips to help save on holiday meals.
Fun and festive doesn’t necessarily require big spending. Game nights are a great way for everyone to enjoy themselves and each other. Heads Up, Speak Out, and Pie Face are just a few examples of popular family-friendly games that won’t break (or even dent) the bank. Weather-permitting, a game of touch football is a nice way to work off some calories between dinner and dessert, and if there’s snow, grab a sled and hit the hills! Local tip: Bergen Mama put together this list of the best sledding hills in Bergen County!
It’s almost inevitable that you or someone in your family will need to return a gift for one reason or another. In this case, there are a few options:
Many retailers offer at least a two-week extension (into mid-January) for holiday returns, if not longer, but some may require a receipt or only offer site or store credit. Here are the holiday return policies at some popular stores.
If the point of giving a gift is for the recipient to enjoy it, does it matter where the gift comes from? According to the 2015 American Express Spending and Saving Tracker, 76% of those surveyed found re-gifting socially acceptable and 57% claimed they would likely re-gift that season. Done properly and thoughtfully, re-gifting doesn’t have to be taboo; after all, haven’t we all received things that were great, just not great for us?
If you’re comfortable with online technology, consider selling unwanted or unneeded items on eBay, OfferUp, and LetGo; shoes or clothing can be sold through sites like Poshmark or thredUP; even unwanted gift cards can be exchanged for others or cash through sites like Gift Card Granny. Once again, protecting yourself and your identity should always be your top priority when buying or selling online. Take the necessary precautions, like these, and use good judgment!
Season of Giving
John Wesley said, “Make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.” It’s good advice! Giving doesn’t have to begin and end with money. If you are in a position to be able to spare any non-perishable food, those in need of assistance are never too far. You can help fellow neighbors in need by dropping it off to a local food pantry, like our friends at the Office of Concern Food Pantry at St Cecilia’s Church. The Pantry provides food assistance to more than 800 families in Englewood and surrounding Bergen County communities.
At the end of the day, the holidays are a time to enjoy with the people you care about. Don’t let financial stress get in the way of that! This year, give yourself the gift of time. Plan ahead and set yourself up for a successful and enjoyable holiday next year by opening a Universal Club Account now. It features a structured savings plan designed to help you save for special occasions like the holidays. As always, our Branch Associates are available to offer guidance to help you reach your financial goals, both short- and long-term.
To learn more about NVE’s products and services, visit our website. You can also speak with one of our Branch Associates by visiting your convenient neighborhood branch, or call us at 1-866-NVE BANK (683-2265).