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Keeping track of family finances during the holidays

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MADISON (WKOW) — As families wrap up one holiday, all eyes turn toward the next.

“Black Friday used to be a significant day and an event in and of itself,” said Cliff Robb, a personal finance expert and professor at UW-Madison. “Now it’s become more of a week almost.”

Robb says what we’re buying isn’t changing much, but when we’re buying is.

“You’re still seeing the same general kinds of shopping behavior,” he said. “It’s just being dispersed across a larger number of days.”

According to NerdWallet, each of us will spend $825 on gifts this year. That’s up 6 percent over last year. 37 percent of people think we may soon be headed toward a recession, though Robb says people should be more concerned with their personal financial situation than the market overall.

“1970s to 1980s, we had pretty steady rates of savings — and this is average household savings — 10 to 15 percent,” he said. “Now it’s closer to 4 or 5 percent.”

Robb says the lack of savings isn’t necessarily young people’s faults.

“A lot of them have had to take on more debt to complete their education planning than previous generations,” he said. “And they’re entering a market where wages have been relatively stagnant.”

Talking about money over thanksgiving can get stressful, but Robb says having everyone together can be an opportunity.

“If you have older parents or older individuals in the family, that you kind of know what is their plan,” he said. “Where they have certain protected documents that are important… Making sure that if you do have conversations with your family that they are fruitful, helpful conversations where you’re really talking about strategies that really benefit everybody.”

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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