There are some common sayings about Americans that we hate to admit are true. Americans are lazy. They’re overweight. They’re in debt.
Desperate financial settings surprisingly don’t keep people spending less—in most cases, they spend more. According to a report from Score.com, Americans will spend a total of $43.4 billion dollars online in November and December this year. That’s a 17 percent gain from last year. Online sales jumped 26 percent on Black Friday this year to $1.04 billion dollars from $816 million last year. Amazon was the most-visited retail website, and Wal-Mart and Best Buy were the most frequented stores.
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Black Friday is the unofficial kick off to holiday shopping. According to the Associated Press, a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the four-day weekend starting on Thanksgiving. These numbers are up 9.2 percent from last year.The average holiday shopper reportedly spent $423 over the entire weekend. Britt Beamer, founder and chairman of America’s Research Group stated, “This Black Friday was by far the biggest ever. We’ve never seen 60 percent of consumers shop in a 12-14 hour window like we’ve seen this year.”
However, we found you won’t see many Keene State College students swarming Wal-Mart and Best Buy and adding to these statistics.
It’s no secret that for college students, money is usually tight, making an established budget and spending limit an essential component to ensure 2012 holiday shopping is stress free. Let’s face it, college students already have a lot to pay for, especially this time of year: books, loans, rent, food, the list goes on. Many students said their parents would rather see them save their money than spend ridiculous amounts on gifts for them.
Freshman Kelly MacDonald said her parents have expressed they don’t want to see her spending too much on the holidays.
“My parents don’t want me to spend too much,” she said, and continued and said her mother and father told her specifically not to spend much on the two of them.
Senior Chris Gruner similarly said he doesn’t spend money on gifts for friends on the holidays, and teams up with his siblings to buy joint gifts for his parents. “I base my budget what I’m going to buy them [parents],” he said, “It’s the best option that keeps everyone happy.”
Gruner continued and said that if he and his siblings find something that seems over budget, they discuss ways to make it fit with what they’re willing to spend.
For many students, they begin their holiday season by establishing an overall spending amount, followed by allotting a certain amount per person on their list.
Freshman Kaylene Lemme said when she holiday shops, she goes in with a plan.
“I definitely go with an order for spending,” she said. Lemme explained she sets aside a certain amount of money per person in order to avoid going over budget.
She also said she usually asks people what they want ahead of time, then goes to the internet and finds where she can find the best deal on those items.
James Shannon, a sophomore, said he sets a budget ahead of time of approximately $100-$120. He said every time he gets paid, he sets aside a small amount for the gift giving season. “I have a very large family and a girlfriend, so there’s a lot of people to buy for. I want to make it fair,” Shannon explained.
He said he spreads his shopping out over October, November and December. He said he tries not to buy one “huge” gift for one person, again, to keep things even.
Shannon said students today have low budgets for spending because they are conscious of what they can and cannot afford. “We have less money to spend,” he said.
Unlike Shannon’s “fair” way of shopping, freshman Katie Brennan said she is more likely to spend more money on her parents than her boyfriend, friends, and siblings. Brennan said she doesn’t spread out her shopping. Rather, she asks ahead for what people would like and spends all in one trip. “I don’t spend as much that way,” Brennan said.
While gift giving lifts the spirits of the giver and receiver, you can’t buy happiness. Stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy someone’s happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Instead, look for other alternatives that can make as great an impact as a material item could. You could donate to a charity in someone’s name, give homemade gifts, or start a family gift exchange. While it’s exciting to give someone exactly what they want, it’s not worth setting yourself back and paying for the consequences later. Whatever it may be this season, don’t lose sight of what really matters.
Julie Conlon can be contacted at
Sam Norton can be contacted at