Economic Snapshot Overview by Dr. Reid Cummings - November 2018
Posted on November 19, 2018 by Dr. Reid Cummings
Greetings, and welcome to the November 2018 Mobile Bay Economic Snapshot.
When we launched the Snapshot in November 2017, we told you that our goal was to work toward becoming a primary data and education resource for our region’s professionals, business owners, nonprofits, and governmental entities. In the year since, we have expanded our data content and topical coverage, and have begun to drill deeper into the data that we cover to provide increased levels of granularity. I am so proud of the work that our Assistant Director Jana Stupavsky and her dedicated team have done since we first went live. More is in the works and we look forward to adding additional content and coverage in the year ahead.
For this month’s commentary, we thought that with just a few days before Black Friday, and the dizzying pace of holiday shopping begins in earnest, it would be appropriate to revisit some holiday spending tips we published a couple of years ago.
- Establish a reasonable, realistic holiday shopping budget and stick to it.
Tackling the malls or shopping online without knowing how much you can afford to spend on gifts for the people on your list is a terrible idea. Without a budget, you will tend to spend way too much for most all of your purchases, only to shriek with desperation when you start totaling things up.
- Set limits for the number of people on your list.
It’s normal for people to want to give presents to the people who mean the most to them. It is not necessary, however, to give everyone a gift. If you feel compelled to give a gift to your butcher, dry cleaner, hairdresser, co-worker, boss—or anyone else other than your family and closest friends—then set limits. By setting limits and deciding in advance to whom you will give, and how much you will spend, you will feel more in control of your holiday spending.
- Use credit wisely.
It’s okay to use credit, but it comes with a price, and your post-holiday financial stress will greatly increase when the credit card bills hit your mailbox before the New Year even arrives. If you must use credit, wisely incorporate its use into your budget. Just as you set limits on how many people are on your shopping list, set limits on how much debt you are willing to carry into the New Year.
- Be organized.
Shopping wisely is as important as spending wisely. Waiting until Christmas Eve to run around in a buying frenzy may sound like fun, but the pressure just to finish shopping will usually work against you and lead to spending way more than you had planned. Use your time wisely and organize your holiday shopping. You will likely spend far less and have far more fun.
- Stay focused.
Retailers and the advertisers they hire are experts at enticing you to purchase whatever they are selling. Don’t be fooled by all the specials and decorations. If you stick to your plan, you will stand a better chance of staying within your budget. Bear in mind though, sometimes others can get to you as well. Your family members, friends, and co-workers can often put pressure on you when they mention the coolest gift that they just bought for someone. Again, do not be fooled, or persuaded. Stay focused and stick to your plan.
- Remain calm.
Holiday shopping can bring out the worst in people—on both sides of the cash register. Try your best to not let someone’s rudeness, arrogance, or even anger, make you so mad that you rush to buy the first thing you find just to complete your shopping. If you do, you will most likely spend more than you had planned and end up being upset with yourself for letting others get to you. By remaining calm and smiling often, you will feel better, and you may save money to boot.
- Dealing with surprise gifts.
Sometimes, someone not on your list will surprise you with a gift. Your first reaction likely will be that you have to reciprocate, and you rush out to buy them a gift. Doing so will eat into your time and knock your budget out of whack. Instead, respond by sending a note that you have donated to a good cause in their name. The amount you give is less important than the gesture. Your donation will honor their gift to you and will do others some good at the same time.
- Enjoy yourself and give grace.
Each of us has many reasons to give thanks. It is true though, that at one time or another, certain situations can present difficulty and cause anxiety. While understanding this might happen, always remember the reason for the season. Do your utmost to take time to enjoy it and treat others with the sincerest kindness and most loving grace. It will give you balance that impacts everything you do.
Until next time, from everyone at the Center, we wish you and yours all of the best during the holiday season.