Consider This: Does Georgia's Economy Affect Holiday Traditions?
Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
The state of the economy impacts lives - including how people celebrate the holidays. Whether it's pumpkin pie, traveling expenses or the hottest toy on the rack, the holidays can pack a punch when it comes to resources.
According to the Mid-Year 2014 Consumer Survey conducted by the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA), more than 60 percent of respondents said the economy has impacted their holiday plans. The survey shows 34 percent will buy fewer gifts, 24.2 percent will cut back on traveling and 5.3 percent will attend fewer parties. More than 27 percent of respondents said they won't allow the economy to impact tradition.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, a professional services network, conducted a 2014 Holiday Outlook study showing why economic conditions are dictating holiday shopping behaviors. According to the study, key economic drivers include limited disposable income, a higher cost of living and insufficient salary. The study also suggests prices, deals and convenience will drive holiday spending decisions this holiday, more so than last year.
Although more Americans are working, it's in an economy where everything costs more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall unemployment rate in America is 5.9 percent. The unemployment rate in Georgia is 7.9 percent. Nationally, the Current Population Study by the Bureau of Census indicates the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons are down by 1.3 percent and 1.9 million, respectively. However, in the last year the Consumer Price Index for all items increased 1.7 percent. This includes expenses such as food, gasoline, shelter, air travel, clothing and recreation.
"Our members are beginning to think about the holidays and are asking about Christmas loans," said Deborah Beam, CEO and President of Ethicon Credit Union in Cornelia. "We do offer small Christmas loans to our members with a lower interest rate than a normal signature rate, if the loan is paid back in 12 months or less."
Loans aren't the only avenue consumers can take; many Georgia credit unions offer holiday club accounts and savings options.
"Ethicon Credit Union has been offering Christmas Club accounts since the early eighties. It is a very popular Christmas Savings account and is used for everything from Christmas gift purchases, to property taxes and homeowners' insurance," Beam said. "Members can sign up anytime, but there are restrictions on withdrawals."
Tips to salvage holiday traditions:
- Save all year. Saving all year, or at least part of the year, will lessen the economic burden during the holidays.
- Budget. Make a list of all the expected holiday events and expenses such as parties, gifts and traveling. Once the list is complete, budget the cost of each.
- Look for deals. Grocery shop with coupons, look for sales or shop online when there's free shipping. Also, consider browsing a secondhand store for that perfect holiday outfit.
- Prioritize. Decide what traditions are most important to you and your family and stick to those.
To learn more about credit unions or to find a credit union to join, consumers can visit: mycreditunion.gov.