Don’t Let ‘Black Friday’ Become ‘Bleak Friday’
By Layden Hale and Netta Whitman
Marketed as “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving could be considered “Bleak Friday” if consumers have not budgeted for holiday spending.
The challenge for some has become even greater with the growing retail initiative to open for business on Thanksgiving Day.
Ask a family if it has a holiday spending plan, and you may learn it is nothing more than knowing which stores they are going to. Armed with their cell phones to communicate with each other, the husband is going to one store, the wife to another, and grandma to a third – all to be the first in line for those “must have” holiday sales. That is not a plan to avoid shock in the mail when the bills start coming in January.
Homeport throughout the year offers financial and credit counseling services in either group or one-on-one settings, and in the “spirit” of the holiday season, we are offering a few tips and suggestions on how to avoid financial indigestion from gift giving:
- Set and stick to a holiday spending budget — now.
- Use assets you may not have considered for spending, such as credit card reward options that range from cash or points to redeemable gift cards.
- Round up unused gift cards.
- Get creative and make your own gifts. Knit, crochet or craft.
Children can offer “personal gift coupons,” from lawn care to shoveling snow or cleaning Grandma or Grandpa’s house.
Another important way to cut back on overspending is using cash over credit cards whenever possible.
Studies show there is a physical pain sensor when using cash that is not triggered when using credit cards. It is why casinos offer tokens and chips to gamble.
If you can’t leave home without a credit card, carry only one. This creates a debt ceiling when shopping. Carrying multiple cards significantly risks debt as you fail to resist purchasing gifts for yourself, relatives, friends and co-workers.
If you have not planned for 2016 holiday season spending, it’s not too late to shop wisely and on a budget, to make sure you can still make your rent or mortgage payment. You can also start thinking about 2017 end of year holiday expenses.
For example, consider using a portion of your tax returns for a holiday season savings account. You can contribute to that account throughout the year on a monthly basis.
Spending time with family is a key component to a successful holiday season, but it is often challenged by overspending and indulging. If you go over the top, Homeport is here to help you figure out a plan to clean it up and avoid a future problem.
For for more information, visit www.homeportohio.org/get-help.