Christmas may be brutal for many families in 2022, particularly with residual pandemic stresses. And they feel it coming. They have been holding on to budgets (or not!) for most of the year, and they’re going to make the holidays the best they can be for themselves and their families. “Going all out” is the operative phrase, for better or worse, even if they wake up in the new year with those skull-busting “financial hangovers.”
Well, it’s probably going to be worse. As pandemic stresses – yes, even gas prices – continue to recede, shoppers have been game for spending during this holiday season, even if that means taking a substantial hit this year. According to a report from CreditCards.com, Millennial shoppers are more prepared to dive into debt this holiday season than any generation. The findings are unveiled following an excessively strained holiday campaign, considering the stubborn supply chain issues, shipping delays, and inflation’s raising the cost of goods and services across the retail market.
According to the report, 56 percent of Millennials are more than willing to dive into the deep red as they shop for presents. Even more, 18 percent claimed they were likely to spend more this year than last. “Each generation has their own financial background and their own financial struggles,” said Ana Staples, a credit analyst and co-author of the report, told Business Insider. “It’s kind of a trend with millennials, that they’re willing to go into debt for things.”
Staples says a lot of this consumer behavior from millennials stems from becoming “desensitized to feeling uncomfortable financially” as a reaction to living through two major economic recessions, an unstable labor market, and higher rates of student debt. They really don’t know anything else.
4 steps to cure those financial hangovers in the new year
Going into 2023, ‘tis the season to help your members – regardless of generation – take a hard look at their budgets, debt, and investments, and then cross-check them against their existing financial goals (if they have them).
This new year-necessary examination provides the opportunity to reflect on the past year and set achievable goals for the new year ahead. Here are a handful of touchpoints:
- Review your member’s household budget
Adjust member’s budget as necessary. Consider their monthly income, their fixed and adjustable expenses, and dictate their economic priorities in 2023 in order to formulate the best possible budget. Reconsidering your member’s budget could be particularly valuable, especially now, as further inflation may force individuals or families to allocate more for essentials like gas, groceries, or insurance.
- Educate members about access to small dollar loans and emergency funds
Maintaining access to an emergency fund or a source of adequate funds is part of any optimized financial health plan for those moments you never knew were coming. From staying afloat during dark economic clouds to paying off an unexpected medical or monthly bill, not only can an emergency fund assist your member in avoiding liquidating financial assets during times of market unpredictability, those allocated funds can contribute to keeping them or their family financially stable. Advise them to do all they can to save three-to-six months of living expenses in a protected account, even following those post-holiday, debt-heavy financial hangovers.
There are, unfortunately, millions of Americans who remain underbanked and require the financial life raft that small dollar loans provide. Stuck in a financially unstable situation, they may be coming to the credit union movement from a very dark place. In early 2022, Pew Trusts reported that predatory payday loans cost four times more in states with minimal consumer protections than states with more.
Improved access to digital small dollar loans like QCash’s Life Event Loan mobile platform is a cooperative solution of which members and consumers everywhere need to be made aware. From the immediacy of their mobile devices, members can apply for and have funds deposited into their account within 60 seconds with the help of QCash’s relational-decisioning AI engine. Members face any number of financial uncertainties and compromises, not only during the holiday season, but those mid-winter, budget-busting and unexpected emergencies that threaten to unravel their “new year, new me” financial health plans. Digital small dollar loans can help with those moments.
- Help your members conquer their debt
If your member is already practiced at controlling their debt, search for ways to consolidate it even further. For instance, if the member has a holiday bonus or year-end bounce, speak with them about perhaps adding that extra income to any high-interest balances they’re working to pay off.
Afterwards, think about the benefits of consolidating any remaining debt the member still retains, which could assist in trading off various interest rates on a combination of outstanding loans for a lower rate on a single loan. Decreasing the number of loans your member carries can help streamline their financial life and soften their financial distress.
- Ensuring members are on track with financial goals
Are you members staying on track with their savings and investment goals? If your members have been temporarily thrown off the rails due to the effects of the recent bear market or any other factor, express to them your availability to help them get back up to speed on their journey to financial well-being.
Once again, if your member is all caught up on their goals, be proactive and discuss with them any new objectives they may wish to start working towards. Were they able to augment their contributions to their workplace retirement plan? How about their IRA? Don’t be afraid to help them level up even further to achieve peak financial performance.