Guest Contributor: Melanie Jewkes
USU Extension Associate Professor
When I was in college, I attended a community presentation on simplifying the holidays. One of the main ideas that stood out to me was spreading joy throughout the entire season (and not only on Christmas morning) and creating a gift-giving structure for children. I immediately fell in love with the ideas as a way to distribute the excitement of the season, to save money by sticking with my holiday spending plan, and to create an easy gift-giving system and tradition.
Guest Contributor: Callie Ward
USU Extension Assistant Professor
Neighbor gifts...have you heard this term? The tradition is strong in Utah to deliver neighbor gifts during the holiday season! It is fun to deliver them and it is fun to receive them. They can bust your budget if you're not careful. These expressions of appreciation do not have to be expensive to be meaningful. I like to add a little humor into them. Check out my go-to list of CHEAP and EASY Neighbor Gifts including some fun, 2020-specific ideas:
Amanda H. Christensen, AFC
USU Extension Associate Professor; Utah Money Moms Editor
I know you've seen it...many retailers are already promoting Black Friday deals and will continue to bombard us with a barrage of ads all month long. I've already started to feel a little FOMO. But before we jump the gun and dive in to holiday spending in 2020, I'd recommend a few things to help us stay savvy shoppers this season.
Tip 1: Starting early can help you spread holiday costs out over a few months rather than everything hitting your bank account in December or January. This also helps with our efforts to give thoughtful gifts-which is always our intention-but sometimes we run out of time and simply pull the trigger on something less meaningful or more expensive than we'd have hoped. Start early, check things off your list and unplug from the holiday hub-ub to enjoy the reason for the season.
Tip 2: Create a holiday spending plan. Don't forget to include the gift exchange at work or any neighbor gifts you'd like to give out. Traditional activity's may have costs associated with them so don't forget that either. Once you've listed everything, set a per-person (or per activity, etc.) spending limit. I like to use a free app like Santa's Bag (or something similar) because it helps me easily track my per-person spending and visually shows me my progress. What a per-person spending limit does is helps me focus on getting the best bang for my buck within that spending limit.
Tip 3: Keep good records such that if an item you’ve purchased goes on sale at a better price later in the season, you can be a savvy consumer and return the item or ask for the difference in store credit. As for physical receipts, during the holiday season I make space for them in my coupon/gift card organizer that’s in my purse and always with me. Digital receipts can be difficult to track as they can get buried in your email. It’s as simple as creating a “Christmas 2020” email folder and dragging all online order confirmations into that folder.
Tip 4: A savvy consumer takes advantage of the sales and knows when to stop spending. The "good deals" will keep coming. We'll be bombarded all through December as well so once you've reached that per-person spending limit and checked everything off your list, be done. Unplug. Last-minute impulse buys can be budget busters! The sale season is only working for you if you don’t continue to buy, buy, buy.
GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: ANDREA SCHMUTZ, USU EXTENSION ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
I love the fact that Pioneer Day (a state holiday in Utah) falls in the same month as the 4th of July. The two holidays encourage us to celebrate heritage - of our country and of our state. They remind us of sacrifices made by courageous people who lived difficult lives. Traditionally, Pioneer Day commemorates the arrival of the first group of Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. However, the holiday is an opportunity to honor the many different pioneers who contributed to the wonderful state and country in which we live. Regardless of your faith, this July 24 take a moment to enjoy some family time with these budget friendly activities inspired by the pioneers.
GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: KATHY RIGGS, USU EXTENSION PROFESSOR
If your family has the tradition of taking a summer vacation every year, you are not alone! It’s a great time to bond as a family and for parents to get away from work and other responsibilities. However, this year it may make less sense to spend a considerable amount of income on an expensive family trip. It may be wiser to use vacation funds to pay off debt or add to that “rainy day” fund (which may have come in handy to some families in 2020). Besides, there are still some travel restrictions in place and some of the more popular parks and recreation areas may not be fully open until late summer.
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