As the holiday season comes to a close, with Christmas and New Years being just around the corner, there’s still time for stocking stuffing and store buyouts. It’s no secret the holidays are the biggest money-making period for most businesses, especially retailers. However, what happens to shoppers, financially, when it’s time to pull down the lights and put away the Christmas tree?
In October, the National Retail Federation reported that consumers spent $717.24 billion last year in November and December. With the population of the United States standing at about 327.7 billion, that’s just over $2,100 per household.
While that might not seem as much over a period of two months, improper spending happens during the holiday season can lead to major ramifications for weeks, months, and even years down the line.
Urging shoppers to practice healthy spending habits during this time of year, celebrity credit guru and wealth specialist, James Hunt advises shoppers to “evaluate whether we have enough funds, without putting ourselves into debt.”
“You should basically spend what you have available,” said Hunt. “Instead of going into debt, take your debit card instead of your credit cards.”
Hunt’s record of providing financial guidance boasts over 40,000 clients; at least 300 of which are celebrities. He is credited with lending his services to public figures like NBA player Michael Beasley, singers Usher and Tank, and actor Taraji P. Henson.
According to Hunt, a lot of consumers are stuck with the bill for their holiday spending until towards the end of the following year. Meaning, that consumers aren’t necessarily continuously paying for the items they bought, but suffer from the financial damage that they caused; resulting in late bills and missed payments.
“Be a wise shopper and be proactive in the way that you spend your money. Always consider that the debt is mounting with your spending, Hunt advises. “Whether it’s in the grocery store or the mall, you have to be wise with the debt that you’re accumulating and make sure that you keep it to a minimum.”
Though Hunt makes a lot of money off of his financial management business, he admits to being a frugal shopper.
“I’m extremely successful and I still shop the ‘last call’ sales. I shop the ‘last call’ at Neiman Marcus and you get all of the designer wear at 80% off,” he said.
“Even after Christmas, you can get 90% off. I think it’s wise to shop around and be an educated shopper. You can get everything you need at rock-bottom prices. No one has to know that your gift was bought in January or after the Christmas season last year for this year.”
As general advice to anyone looking for financial guidance, Hunt warns people to be very attentive to their credit score.
“Get to know what is in your credit report. That is absolutely crucial,” said Hunt. “We have all kinds of websites that are available to consumers to be able to be aware of what is in your credit report at all times.”
He also offers a few tips for credit management, instructing people to consistently build credit.
“No matter how high your credit score is, there should always be the next level in your credit,” said Hunt. He continues, “Challenge whatever issues are in your credit report. If there are any negative issues, just because it’s just negative and maybe you’re responsible, still my advice is to challenge it. You never know when you push the envelope on them.”
Not only is Hunt’s advice designed to be effective now, but also years down the road. Similar to the way that Ebenezer Scrooges’s actions dictated his present and future.
“The way that you build your credit, what you’re doing right now, and what you have done 5 years ago, will determine whether you get the house or not. Will determine what kind of car you drive or what level of car you drive. And will determine even when you decide to open that dream business.”
A product of a home with 18 children, Hunt remembers Christmas with his big family.
“I come from a family of 18 children. They found ways to actually create decorations and all types of different things,” he said.”We had a nice tree but we didn’t have all of these super expensive decorates.”
As Hunt continues, he goes on to shed light on what is most important during this season.
“ We just looked forward to the smell of Christmas, and the cakes and the pies,” Hunt said. “We had gifts, but we didn’t have what the neighbors had.”
“But there was love in the home. I think that is underrated these days. Really love trumps everything else.”