LOCAL NEWS

Unaffordable Utah: Keep the holiday magic alive without breaking the bank

Nov 10, 2022, 11:02 PM | Updated: Nov 11, 2022, 9:45 am

RIVERTON, Utah — From the Thanksgiving turkey to the presents under the tree, the holidays are expected to be more expensive this year.

The 2022 holiday season approaches just as families are struggling with persistently high inflation and starting to run out of extra cash accumulated during the pandemic.

“We have no savings—gathering a lot of consumer credit,” said Utah Valley University professor of finance Cary Wasden. “Our wages are not keeping up with inflation.”

The latest Consumer Price Index showed inflation for October clocking in at 7.7% compared to a year earlier.

Utah and other Mountain West states experienced an even higher inflation rate of 9.3% in October, which is more than four times the target of 2%.

This year’s Thanksgiving dinner will be about 13.5% more expensive than last year, according to analytics firm IRI’s Thanksgiving Tracker.

Watch for discounts

Even with dwindling savings and higher prices, Wasden said the good news is that shoppers can expect to see a lot of sales this holiday shopping season and that the discounts will come earlier in the season.

“Retailers are coming out saying, ‘We have got so much stuff. We’re going to have to discount to get through it,’” he said. “We’re going to get some serious discounting.”

Watching for sales is one way to stretch a holiday budget just as gas, groceries, utilities and activities for the kids are all adding up for Utah households.

“Eating out is something that we’ve definitely had to cut back on,” said Zoie Farmer, of Riverton. “We just are really careful about where we go and where we spend our money.”

With five kids, Farmer said her family is definitely feeling the weight of inflation.

“Probably about 25% to 30% more,” she said about the added expenses to her family’s budget. “That’s a big increase for a family of our size.”

Focus on traditions

Despite rising prices, Farmer said her family is ready for a season full of cherished memories thanks to a change in focus made years ago.

“Christmas, for us, it means serving. It means family. And all those things can be accomplished without spending a ton of money,” Farmer said.

Farmer said Christmas changed forever 10 years ago when her oldest son, Hyrum, was diagnosed with biphenotypic leukemia while the family lived away from relatives.

“He was diagnosed Dec. 20, so just a few days before Christmas,” Farmer said.

During the exhausting, 148 weeks of chemotherapy she said they were blessed by strangers.

“We had to rely a lot on just the community and the goodness of people,” Farmer recalled. “Provided us with gas cards. Provided us with groceries. People brought us Christmas presents. Just like amazing people that we didn’t know.”

Hyrum, now 17, is cured and doing great. The family now recognizes Christmas as a time to pay that generosity forward.

“My son is alive and I want to celebrate that,” Farmer said.

This year they are decorating and donating a tree for the Festival of Trees to benefit Primary Children’s Hospital.

Create lasting memories with experiences

In addition to serving others during the holidays, the Farmers also create lasting memories by focusing on shared experiences.

“If you sit back and think about the Christmases that you remember, it’s not the stuff you got,” Farmer said.

Instead of expensive toys, they gift experiences, which they find more rewarding with their children.

“It’s not just enjoyed that day of Christmas, it’s enjoyed throughout the year,” Farmer said.

She recommends finding activities that your kids already like or want to try: like lessons, event passes and sports tickets. With the right activity you’ll have a gift that keeps on giving.

“I get to have six dates with my son,” Farmer said. “Who gets to say that, right? That, to me, is a treasure.”

If you’re tight on cash right now you can spread out the cost by creating your own punch pass and paying each time you participate in the activity.

Of course, she said, there are still presents under the tree on Christmas morning.

“I want it to be still very magical for everyone involved,” Farmer said. “So it depends on the child. It depends on their interests.”

Make a list of holiday priorities

Utah State University Extension professor Melanie Jewkes advises families to start planning for the holidays by making a list of what’s most important.

After that, look for ways to reduce, simplify and save money.

“Instead of maybe hosting a big dinner, maybe it’s a potluck dinner this year,” Jewkes said. “Or maybe it’s a dessert night.”

Next, create a budget and stick to it.

“Don’t be so stressed about getting a good deal that you end up overspending,” Jewkes said.

Once you’ve checked off the things on your list, Jewkes recommends staying away from malls and even deleting shopping apps.

“When you feel like you’re done, stop looking, stop shopping, stop spending more time at the stores,” she said.

This is a good year to avoid going into debt since credit cards will be harder to pay off because of higher interest rates.

Also, Jewkes reminded that you can free up some cash to spend next month by canceling subscriptions.

“Do you really need five different streaming services,” she asked, “or can you do one for a few months and then change to another?”

Identify free activities like driving around to see Christmas lights, caroling, sledding, a hike or walk, hot chocolate with friends and free holiday concerts and pageants.

This year could also be a time to have important conversations about how families can adjust spending. Jewkes and Wasden said older children will benefit from the learning experience and that it will help them later in life.

“During the holidays, that’s a perfect time to be able to teach the principles to kids about what it means to frugal and prudent,” Wasden said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

(Salt Lake City Police Department)...

Mark Jones

3 men arrested in alleged stolen car operation at Salt Lake City International Airport

Salt Lake City police announced Monday the arrest of three men in connection to an alleged coordinated stolen car operation at Salt Lake City International Airport. 

27 minutes ago

Handcuffs in a jail cell. (Ravell Call/Deseret News)...

Mary Culbertson

71-year-old inmate dies after medical event in custody at Weber County Jail, authorities say

A 71-year-old inmate died in the custody of Weber County Jail after a medical event.

31 minutes ago

police lights...

Mary Culbertson

Teen dead after being shot in West Valley Winco parking lot

A 17-year-old teen was shot and killed in a Winco parking lot. Authorities are still searching for suspects.

1 hour ago

Three people were killed and four were injured in a crash involving a suburban and a motor home nea...

Mary Culbertson

1 infant and 2 adults killed, 4 injured in head-on crash with motor home near Moab

Three were killed, four injured in a crash involving a motor home and a suburban near Moab.

2 hours ago

FILE — police lights...

Mary Culbertson

2 dead, 3 injured in Sanpete County crash

One person is dead and four others injured after a three-vehicle crash on Highway 132.

3 hours ago

Utah's Winter Sports School, located in Park City educates student-athletes during the summer month...

Karah Brackin

Winter Sports School in Park City helps student-athletes pursue academics, sport

Winter Sports School in Park City designed to bridge the best of both worlds — academic and sports — at the highest level.

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

young male technician is repairing a printer at office...

Les Olson

Unraveling the dilemma between leasing and buying office technology

Carefully weigh these pros and cons to make an informed decision that best suits your business growth and day-to-day operation. 

A kitchen in a modern farmhouse....

Lighting Design

A room-by-room lighting guide for your home

Bookmark this room-by-room lighting guide whenever you decide to upgrade your lighting or style a new home.

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Unaffordable Utah: Keep the holiday magic alive without breaking the bank