by Vicky Monroe
Every year it seems like the holidays start earlier and earlier. Are you a fan of how soon the Christmas season starts or is it bothersome to you? I’m the kind of person who puts up the Christmas tree on November 1st and leaves it up until the end of January, so I’m already starting my holiday planning.
Luckily, I don’t have to buy a lot of gifts. My family and I have pretty much stopped doing gift exchanges. We don’t live in the same part of the country anymore and don’t fly out to see each other on holidays. We might send each other a Christmas card or small gift card, but there are no expectations. My partner doesn’t have any family gift-giving obligations either.
Buying a Joint Holiday Gift
My partner and I don’t always get each other gifts on holidays, but this year we need some new cookware. We’ve gotten a lot of kitchen equipment secondhand from family and friends, so we haven’t had to invest in cookware up until now. Most of our pots and pans are nonstick and are very scratched up since they’re over five years old. I recently learned that damaged nonstick coatings can leach chemicals into your food, so it’s definitely time to replace them.
I had a gift card from doing some surveys, so I was able to get two enameled cast iron pans from Cuisinart for free about a month ago. We’ve really enjoyed cooking with them, so we decided to splurge on an enameled cast iron dutch oven to replace our larger cooking pots. I’ve always dreamed of having a Le Creuset pot and found a great deal on QVC, so we decided to order one as a joint Christmas gift for ourselves. I’ve heard that Le Creuset dutch ovens are very well-made and even come with a lifetime warranty, so I’m hoping ours will last for many years to come.
Thoughts on Easy Pay
I recently learned about QVC’s Easy Pay program because I was assigned to write an article about it. I never thought that I would sign up for an installment plan, but I didn’t see any downsides to this one. You don’t have to pay any interest or fees and can split up the cost of your item into several installments, which you pay monthly. The dutch oven I bought will be split up into 5 payments, so it will be a bit easier to work into our budget.
What do you think about installment plans like this? I don’t think the services that charge interest are worth using, but I’m warming up to fee-free payment plans. I think you can get into trouble if you take out multiple installment loans at the same time, especially if you can’t really afford the purchase.
You need to make sure you have more than enough funds to pay for whatever you’re buying, and you can only sign up for a maximum of one installment plan at a time. But they can help with cash flow because they allow you to split up bigger purchases into smaller chunks. I don’t think I’ll use buy now, pay later programs frequently, but I’m less opposed to them than I was before. I used to think there was no way to use them responsibly, but now I realize they can be a helpful tool like rewards credit cards. You just have to be smart about the way you use them.
Surprising Holiday Statistics
I felt a little guilty about our holiday dutch oven splurge… until I learned how much the average American plans to spend on Christmas this year. According to a study that just came out, respondents are gearing up to drop about $1,650 on holiday expenses. I had to pick my jaw up off the floor when I saw that number.
I’m surprised that people are planning to spend that much amidst all the recession fears. Nearly 95% of Americans are stressed out about the cost of food right now, so it seems like people’s priorities are out of whack! Putting food on the table and covering basic necessities is definitely more important than buying holiday gifts.
I was also surprised by the fact that so many people are worried about food costs. At least in my area, it seems like the grocery store price hikes are finally easing up. I’ve even noticed that sales are starting to get better and there are more clearance items available. Lately I’ve had no trouble staying under my $400 per month food budget.
Are you worried about food costs? What are you planning to spend on Christmas gifts, and would you ever use an installment plan to finance them? Let me know in the comments!
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.