ACCC on Reducing Holiday Financial Stress During COVID-19

COVID-19 brings added strain to many consumers this holiday season

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December 14, 2020

(Boston, MA) – December 14, 2020 – For many consumers, the COVID-19 pandemic has added strain on their everyday household budgets. This can be especially concerning during the already stress-inducing holiday season. For others, especially those who traditionally travel or host large holiday gatherings, the public safety protocols and restrictions this year may result in less financial stress than years past. National nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) offers tips on how all consumers can reduce their holiday financial stress during these unprecedented times.

“This year has caused immense stress and anxiety, which seem to have increased for many as the holidays approach,” said Steven Trumble, President and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “Consumers are now trying to decide how they are going to spend their money and time this holiday season. Many of the holiday cost savings suggestions financial experts have made in previous years, such as hosting potlucks or creating alternate gift giving ideas, are not viable during the pandemic.”

According to a recent survey by Credit Karma, 54 percent of consumers feel more financially stressed about the holidays than they did in 2019. The survey also found that 34 percent of consumers think they are financially unprepared for the holidays this year.

“Although some consumers may be saving by forgoing travel, not hosting large holiday parties, or canceling seasonal celebrations altogether, many are struggling to make ends meet this season,” added Trumble. “The best advice I have for consumers this holiday season is to have a spending plan in place so they know how much they can afford.”

ACCC highlights several ways consumers can reduce their holiday financial stress.

Spending plan – Make a spending plan for the holidays so you know how much you are budgeting for gifts and how that money can be realistically spent. Take an overall look at your budget considering the pandemic and see what you can responsibly afford. Be sure to factor in the cost of shipping gifts to the family you may not be able to see this year due to the pandemic.

Avoid debt – It is more important than ever that consumers avoid going into debt just to afford the holidays. Everyone knows that the economy is tight. If you can’t afford to give everyone a gift this year, your loved ones and friends will understand. Paying with cash or a debit card can also help consumers be more mindful of budgets and avoid debt.

Shop local – Small businesses and restaurants have been hit hard by COVID-19. Support businesses in your community by purchasing gift cards to local restaurants or finding unique gifts from that special small shop in the town center.

Make and stick to the gift list – Before shopping, make a list of everyone you plan on giving a gift to. It is important to prioritize this list with close family members – children, parents, and siblings first and expand from there. Don’t be afraid to cut people out you would typically send a gift to this year. For instance, many work environments are remote, so coworker gifts are less of a norm this year. Set a price limit for each recipient and note gift ideas. Be sure to follow this list when shopping and not be swayed by “deals” unless the item is on the list.

Price check – Take advantage of price matching as it could save you a few dollars. Be sure to check price matching policies at different stores to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Shop early – Shopping early gives you time to browse for sales at various stores. It also may help you avoid holiday crowds during the pandemic.

Shop online – Help stop the spread of COVID-19 and try to do all your holiday shopping online this year. Even many local merchants are offering online or pick up shopping.

About American Consumer Credit Counseling

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management through credit counseling, debt management, bankruptcy counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling, and financial education concerning debt solutions. To help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loan assistance, youth and money, homeownership, identity theft, senior living, and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®). For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit http://www.consumercredit.com/financial-education.aspx