Somehow, it seems like the holidays sneak up on us every year. And, as many of us learn annually, it’s also easy to get caught up in the holiday cheer, and let our disciplined, finely-tuned financial plans fall by the wayside as we buy food, gifts, and whatever else tickles our fancy during the end of the year.
That’s why it’s important to try and lean on your level of financial literacy during the holidays. That can include creating a holiday budget, setting spending limits, keeping tabs on your holiday spending, and even enacting some gift-buying strategies — whatever it takes to make sure you don’t fall completely off of the financial wagon this holiday season.
While limiting your impulse buys and setting some financial boundaries can be helpful ways to keep yourself on track in November and December, staying financially literate during the holidays can comprise other things, too. It may mean that you’re a bit more discriminatory or skeptical of “sales” pricing on Black Friday. Or that you’re avoiding the grocery store on the day before Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve, knowing that grocers may be looking to pad profits on those traditionally busy days.
Financial Literacy During the Holidays
Again, budgeting and incorporating sound money management strategies during the holiday months certainly isn’t a bad thing, but it’s a good idea to also try and extend your financial literacy skills and try to pierce the corporate veil.
That is, try and be a bit more cognizant of the strategies that retailers are using during the holidays to get you to spend more money. While they’re not necessarily trying to trick or scam consumers — that would be a whole other can of worms to address — the holidays are a very busy time of the year, and people spend a lot of money during that stretch.
Right off the bat: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and ongoing holiday sales. While these sales days are wildly popular and can fetch consumers some massive savings on certain products, they’re ultimately designed to get you to shop. Just keep in mind that you don’t need to buy anything — just because something is on sale, doesn’t mean you need to purchase it!
Further, promotions and rewards programs are likewise designed to get you to spend more money at specific stores. If you’re smart and utilize a sound shopping strategy, you may be able to take full advantage of specific store programs or promotions. But most people won’t. And it’s not to say that you’re going to spend a lot of money unwisely, but if you’re focused on spending money at a specific store to generate more reward points, you may not shop around to find the best deal.
It’s worth mentioning the power of social media and digital advertising during the holidays, too. We know that social media can have a big impact on our finances, and that influencers and our friends and families can sway us to make unwise purchases from time to time. That’s not all bad, but we need to try and stay aware of how our emotions are being manipulated by the media we’re subjected to.
If you find that you simply can’t keep yourself from making a purchase after it’s recommended by a beloved influencer, maybe it’s time to take a break from social media? At least until after the holidays?
None of this is easy, of course. It’s easy to get swept up in the holiday spirit, to buy too many apple ciders or pumpkin pies, and to spend too much money on gifts for our loved ones. That’s what life is all about, after all. But we do think we should do our best to remember what we learned in financial literacy class, especially during times of the year when marketing and consumerism are at a fever pitch!
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