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Around the Bluhmin’ Town

12/27/17

I think we spent too much on Christmas. How does over one trillion dollars in consumer spending sound to you? Music to the retailers’ ears! Disaster to our credit cards? Well, the average American spends approximately one thousand bucks on gifts. And millennials actually spend a bit more – like $600 more! So the economy is improving and so is our “Christmas Spirit” because this might have been the biggest gift-giving season since the Great Recession.

While many of us try to find the “perfect” present, or want to be creative, possibly even make or bake things to give away, it seems that everyone loves to receive those little pieces of plastic – called gift cards. They are handy, easy and take all the stress out of what to get that picky teenager or favorite uncle. No more ugly sweaters! Forget about slippers and scarves! Plastic always works and is so easy to wrap.

While we are on the topic of spending, the average American household spends about $425 on holiday decorations and other items, like trees, wreaths, bows, lights, you name it. Which is why I think we all have too many tubs filled with decorations! We cannot stop ourselves from wanting one more candle, elf or ornament! There does seem to be consensus – those huge blow up balls of Santas and snowmen that adorn our front yards all looking rather festive – are now considered “tacky” by a large majority of Americans. Maybe because they all look crumpled up and smashed during the day, lying in peculiar squashed positions that could terrify a young child!

Did you know that about fifteen percent of people were running around a few days ago (like on Christmas Eve) to get their shopping completed? And where did they do this shopping? Grocery stores! Which sort of gets back to those little gift cards, because what else could you buy at a supermarket for a Christmas gift? Wine or candy? (Could be yummy).

About seventy percent of Americans purchased gifts online. We have also seen package theft becoming a national crime. These “front porch thieves” are following UPS trucks around and helping themselves to packages left at the front door! Hey, thieves, get a job and stop stealing our stuff! Now people are fighting back. One guy in Phoenix chased a thief (in his truck) who had stolen his packages and ran him off the road while the police came. Other people have set up video cameras. Clever folks have left their own special “gift” boxes by their front doors, filled with poop from their pets or baby diapers. Yep, stealing “stinks” so if any thief is reading this fine paper (probably not), stop taking things that don’t belong to you!

The good news is that the average American contributes to charity to the tune of $250 a year. And our charities need our help. Many rely on the goodness from our hearts and wallets to keep giving kids the food, toys and clothes they deserve. Food banks are still an important factor in the lives of the needy and homeless. It is good to give! Our schools need it and so do a long list of charitable organizations. It’s not too late to make a donation this year that could be a tax credit. Check out the AZ Dept of Revenue School Tax Credit page or list of qualifying charitable organizations. Pay it forward before the year ends!

And the year is ending soon! Dear Readers, may your New Year’s Eve be safe, your New Year be happy, healthy and prosperous! And since we spent a trillion buck, maybe 2018 will be time to save…for the next holiday season.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.