All Posts Tagged: Christmas

Tips for managing your holiday spending

Paul Appleton
Consumer Banking

For many consumers the financial stress and debt burden created by the holidays can take away from the holiday spirit, joy, and time with loved ones that we cherish so deeply. And for some, the financial hangover can linger well into the New Year and beyond.

Young couple looking at an outdoors Christmas market.But it’s worth keeping in mind: What you spend and how you spend are powerful levers that may help ensure the holiday season is a treasured one!

The choices you make – “what” to purchase – can have a huge influence on the expenses created and the value provided to the gift recipient. These ideas for buying gifts may be worth considering:

1) Buy experiences, not products. Ask any child what they received last holiday season or the season before, and many won’t recall. My 8-year-old daughter this year will get a half-day trip to a local California State Park to see the seals. At $7 per ticket, she can invite a friend or two. Add chocolate milk and a donut for breakfast and gas for the trip, and it’ll be $50 all in, for an experience she’ll remember forever. It will surely outlast the plastic toy purchase that’ll be broken, missing pieces and cast aside by early January. Best of all it’s precious time with Dad, educational, and scheduled in January when the holiday blues usually kick in. Wherever you live, a local museum, park, or event can have much greater impact than that hot toy purchase.

2) Buy a shared gift. Reduce expenses by buying a family gift rather than individual gifts.

3) Shop around. As digital merchants take advantage of the convenience of online purchasing, the gap between online pricing and the price in the physical store has narrowed in some cases. And the difference between online sites can be significant, so take the time to do your research and try to get the best deal.

4) Don’t be caught by the “buy more” offers. “Save 10% by spending $100” can be tempting, but do you really need the extra quantity?

For many consumers, credit cards are “how” they spend at the holidays. Apart from convenience, here are two advantages regarding this mode of holiday spending:

1) Take advantage of rewards or cash-back cards, if available. Adding in holiday travel (airfare or gas), gifts, groceries, and dining out, total holiday expenses can reach hundreds of dollars and more. With some cards offering up to 3% cash back or points for certain spend categories, rewards can accumulate over the holiday season and benefit you later. (Full disclosure: Bank of the West does offer a cash-back Mastercard ®.)

2) Many cards offer protections and benefits that can be particularly helpful this holiday season. Worried about buying that gift at a premium before the holiday season only to see it go on sale in early January? Some cards offer price reduction guarantees so that consumers can claim back the difference between what they paid and a new lower advertised price. Many cards also offer warranties and protections that extend store or manufacturer warranties. The services for each card differ, so check with your bank regarding the benefits on your card.

One final tip: Make one of your 2017 resolutions to start saving ahead of time for the next holiday season. By setting up an auto transfer of $50 per month to a savings account, for example, your holiday fund may help take the stress out of next year’s holiday spend.

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4 ideas for business success at the holidays

Don Mercer
Posted by Don Mercer
Small Business Banking
Storefront decorated for Christmas with snowman in the window.

The end of the year is an ideal time to give a thank you to those who have contributed to your business success.

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U.S. Outlook: The U.S. consumer is doing just fine

Scott Anderson
Chief Economist
Graph showing recent rise in vehicle sales.

Consumer spending still looks strong despite gloomy Black Friday estimates.

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