Holiday Shopping as an Emergency?


More of us are gifting our rainy day reserves for the holidays. 

I know you are just getting started or in the middle of the holiday shopping season and I do not want to be the Grinch who stole Christmas. However, there is an alarming trend taking place in our finances this year in which people’s emergency funds have disappeared, and holiday season expenditures account for its disappearance.

One of those trends involves people dipping into, or not contributing to their emergency fund to purchase holiday gifts. Have you given serious thought to what you are doing and is your holiday shopping an emergency?

 Savings Decline

Recent economic reports indicate that unemployment is low and that the rate of inflation may be easing. However, we save significantly less in the past twenty-four months. During the pandemic and through August of 2021, most consumers had a healthy savings balance. But since then, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, estimates in savings have gone from $2.1 Trillion down to $190 Billion. You may not connect to those numbers, so let me explain it this way. We had a personal savings rate of over 30% during the pandemic. That was exceptional, initially, but proved to be unsustainable, declining to a more realistic rate of 9% in August of 2021. Today the rate is around 3.9%. Your personal savings rate is defined as the amount of money or disposable income a person has available monthly after all their bills and taxes have been paid. We have gone from saving almost 10% of our income monthly down to 4%.

Holiday Shopping

 According to the National Retail Federation forecast for this holiday shopping season, consumers will spend an estimated 3%-4% more than they spent in 2022 during the holidays. Additionally, online shopping will increase by an estimated 7%-9% for the season. While this information is concerning; what’s even more concerning is that almost 30% of Americans say they plan to take money from their savings to purchase holiday gifts. Now that I have provided some data, let’s connect the dots! If you are saving less or what’s available in your emergency fund is less than six months, why is it necessary to dip into those reserves to purchase holiday gifts? Does holiday shopping constitute an emergency?

Game Plan

 Here are four suggestions you should consider as we enter the most expensive holiday shopping season:

  • Know your Triggers. What triggers you during this holiday season and causes you to overspend? Is it 25% off the lowest ticketed item or take an additional 15% off the ticket price?
  • Set time limits for your online shopping. Treat it akin to leaving your house for traditional shopping. Just as you would have a departure time and a planned return time, set clear boundaries for the duration you spend online shopping.
  • Remove all credit card information from your account profile. Yes! If you remove all your information from your Amazon account for example; the next time you think of purchasing an item it may be too much of a hassle or pain in the neck, to have to re-enter that information for your next purchase. That way you think a bit more before purchasing the item and avoid one-click shopping
  • Finally, consider using only one credit card this holiday season.You should use the card with the lowest annual percentage rate (APR). This approach will enhance your ability to monitor expenses effectively and prompt you to assess whether you are nearing the credit limit.


Today’s What’s Up features an innovative method for sending money as gift cards. Traditionally, individuals would include cash or checks in cards for occasions like birthday, anniversaries, and graduations. However, thanks to modern technology and a partnership between Hallmark and the peer-to-peer app Venmo, you can seamlessly integrate your monetary monetary gift with a physical card. Simply download the Venmo App, create an account, select a recipient, and use the QR code on the Hallmark card to send your thoughtful gift. And that’s what’s up!


Ruthven R. Phillip, Esq., is a tax attorney, Stewardship and Philanthropy Ministry Assistant, and CEO of Give2Getrich, LLC. Give2Get Rich, LLC 2023. All Rights Reserved. Any distribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited.

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