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Financial Watch | July 2020

Financial Watch | July 2020

July 19, 2020

Christmas in July? Let the Festivities Begin!

Few of us have seen a year like 2020—a recession, record-setting unemployment and a pandemic that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In some parts of the country, reopening measures are being reversed and we’re headed back indoors. So, it’s no wonder thoughts are turning to a more nostalgic time of the year.

Holiday Magic

Searches for “gift ideas,” “holiday recipes” and “Christmas décor” on Pinterest in April 2020 jumped 77% higher than April 2019.1 “Pinners” are usually ahead of the holiday curve, but with 320 million monthly active users2, they’re a good indicator that many more are likely already crafting, buying and planning.

We all need something to look forward to and dreams of a special holiday season to offset the difficult year could easily become expensive with extra months of online shopping from our homes. It’s important to curb any magical thinking now with a simple budget.

Keep Costs Under Wraps

  • Begin with a list of all potential expenses. In addition to gifts, remember the little things add up: decorations, wrapping paper and food. Starting with the big picture prevents unwanted surprises down the road.
  • Decide how much you’re going to spend. And commit to it. Make sure that you use money that you’ve set aside for the holidays or any extra money you can find your annual budget. In the current economic environment, it’s unwise to spend money you plan to pay off later. Even during positive economic conditions, using a credit card for holiday planning is never a good idea.
  • Make a list and check it twice. By creating and sticking to your list, you can do some research and plan ahead for major sales. Finding bargains may turn into “found” money in your budget that could make your holidays a little bit sweeter.
  • Think creatively. COVID-19 has forced us to think differently about how we do nearly everything. Traditions provide us comfort and a sense of normalcy, but we have learned that difficult times are the breeding ground for new ideas. Suggest a Secret Santa to your loved ones, mail handwritten well-wishes to family and friends or skip gifts altogether and give the gift of an experience like a promise to help with home projects like planting a garden.
  • Track your purchases. Stay on top of all your purchases as you make them and subtract them from your budget total. This will make your shopping more enjoyable knowing you’re being financially responsible.

Spread Some Cheer

Remember there are many folks who truly need a gift this holiday season: essential workers, those who’ve lost their jobs and charities who, in normal times, count on the generosity of others to assist those most in need. If you want to vet a charity, Charity Navigator rates non-profit organizations on their effective use of donations.

It has been a tough year for all, and if we are all able to enjoy our holiday traditions in person come November and December, they may be the most joyful ones we’ve experienced in decades. There’s no guarantee any of the difficulties we’re facing will be over in time for the holidays; however, there’s only upside to planning and budgeting for the season now.

If you want to review your financial strategy or discuss additional options, please call the office for an appointment.

1 Pinterest Internal Data, April 2019 vs. 2020, US

2 Sprout Blog, Pinterest (1 Pinterest Internal Data, April 2019 vs. 2020, US)