- Don’t give in to the urge to splurge
- Beware of ‘comfort shopping’
- Have a list to keep spending on track
Holiday spending: Avoid ‘comfort shopping’
LITTLE ROCK – A moment of comfort shopping to relieve holiday stress can create more problems than it solves, said Laura Connerly, assistant professor for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
Comfort shopping is just one of the pitfalls consumers face during December’s gift-giving holidays.
“Pressure to overspend can increase during the holidays as consumers sometimes focus on buying gifts as a way to build special holiday memories,” she said.
And there will be spending. The National Retail Federation forecast consumer spending during the holidays to reach $616.9 billion in 2014.
The pressure may lead some “to feel a little blue at times during the holidays,” Connerly said. “Shopping can be a distraction, bring a sense of action, and make the consumer feel better for a moment.”
However, that short bit of relief could leave the comfort shopper “with clutter and the financial distress,” she said.
Instead, she urges consumers to “look for other sources of holiday cheer. Bake cookies for a neighbor, have coffee with a friend, or play board games with your family.”
To help curb the spending urge, Connerly offers these tips to help consumers control holiday spending:
- Focus on family traditions. “If you haven’t established any family traditions, it’s not too late,” she said. “Bake and decorate cookies together, pop popcorn and watch holiday movies, listen to Christmas music and decorate the tree together, attend a community event or participate in a community service project together.”
- Make lists. The gift-giving holidays in December are a good time to teach children to prioritize their needs and wants. Connerly suggests having children make lists and help them understand that they won’t be able to obtain everything on the list. Lists serve also serve as anti-splurge shopping strategy: “Make a shopping list before you go to the store or online shopping. List names of people for whom you want to purchase a gift and list gift ideas,” Connerly said. “This will give you some structure for your holiday shopping.“
- Set a spending limit. “Decide in advance how much you can afford to spend,” she said. “If using credit, make sure you have a plan to repay the debt.” Connerly said that with cards, it’s easy to overspend and forget the fact “that interest charges add to the cost of the items you purchase. If shopping online, consider the added cost of shipping."
- Avoid impulse buys. “Not all purchase decisions are based on a rational cost analysis,” she said. “Retailers design displays and advertisements to appeal to your emotions. Be aware of these attempts to prompt you to make impulse purchases.”
For more information about managing your finances, contact your county extension office or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Mary Hightower
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service