With last year’s holiday spending having increased 8.3 percent despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the personal-finance website WalletHub recently released its 2021 Holiday Budgets by City report, as well as accompanying videos and expert commentary. It also released its free tool that calculates personalized holiday budgets for all WalletHub members between now and Dec. 25.
To view the full report, visit: https://wallethub.com/edu/holiday-budgets-by-city/16912
To help consumers avoid post-holiday regret, WalletHub used several key metrics, such as income, age and savings-to-monthly expenses ratio, to estimate the maximum spending amounts for consumers in each of 570 U.S. cities.
Cities with the Biggest Holiday Budgets
First, Flower Mound, TX ($3,427); followed by Sunnyvale, CA ($3,085); The Woodlands, TX ($3,073); Sugar Land, TX ($3,029); Mountain View, CA ($2,959); Ellicott City, MD ($2,950); Naperville, IL ($2,941); Bellevue, WA ($2,927); Carmel, IN ($2,806); and League City, TX ($2,778) rounding out the top ten.
At number 11 was Milpitas, CA ($2,710); followed by number 12 Allen, TX ($2,688); Pearland, TX ($2,669); Maple Grove, MN ($2,577); Cary, NC ($2,541); Troy, MI ($2,524); Plymouth, MN ($2,499); Arlington, VA ($2,434); Newton, MA ($2,399) and to close out the top 20, Columbia, MD ($2,379).
• Highlands Ranch, Colorado, has the lowest expenses-to-income ratio, 59.47 percent, which is 1.7 times lower than in Miami, Florida, the city with the highest at 99.55 percent.
• Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has the highest savings-to-monthly expenses ratio, 689.29 percent, which is 3.4 times higher than in Waterbury, Connecticut, the city with the lowest at 200.44 percent.
What tips do you have to help people avoid holiday overspending?
“To avoid overspending, it might be easiest to use a commitment device. I would recommend either putting your allocated budget on a prepaid VISA or holding it in cash (separate from any other cash you might carry). In this way, your holiday spending account is very salient and separate from your other funds. When you run out, if you try to overspend, you have to consciously acknowledge that you have depleted your budget which should add enough friction to the decision to stop some people from violating their goal.”
Jared Watson – Assistant Professor, New York University
How do you think the current social and economic environment is influencing household holiday spending decisions?
“The holiday season is supposed to be a season of giving. Supply chain disruptions have led to shortages and price increases across the board and most people feel like they are in a survival mode and need to think about themselves. It is not that bad! Our trade supply chain is over $2T and COVID knocked the winds out of it for over 12 months. That big a supply chain with many actors will take some time to settle down. Yes, we live in the age of instant gratification but no, the supply chain will not fix overnight. Just like a patient, give it time to heal and try not to overload it so recovery takes longer. In this holiday season, let us try to find that single thread that will reunite us as a country – the thread of taking care of our neighbors and the thread of giving, and the thread of ‘us’.”
Hitendra Chaturvedi – Professor, Arizona State University
How can people show love and appreciation over the holidays without spending money on gifts?
“Love and appreciation can best be shown by thoughtfulness. This can be done without spending money on gifts. In fact, it can be enhanced by not spending money. Giving services and the gift of time are heartfelt options. Think about giving a calendar for the next month or year with notations of services you can do for the recipient. Services can be large or small and show individualized care. Time is a valuable asset and can be much appreciated.”
Barbara L. Stewart, Ed.D., CFCS – Professor, University of Houston