On one side of the aisle are the obligatory New Year’s resolutions like quitting smoking, losing weight and taking up a new hobby.
On the other side are actual life changes like changing spending habits, looking into buying a house and learning to purchase only what’s necessary.
Susan Carter falls into that second category.
Even though consumers made December the highest-grossing holiday shopping month in the last five years, Carter says that she’s planning on changing the way she spends her money when 2011 rolls around as a way to create a savings cushion so that she isn’t caught off-guard if unexpected news comes her way.
“They say that most people are only a paycheck away from being homeless, and I want to work to make sure I’m not in that category anymore,” she said. “Just doing things like cooking dinner at home and not taking extravagant trips can make a big difference, and those are things I plan on working on.”
With the unemployment rate in San Joaquin County hovering at around 16 percent, workers that depend solely on their paycheck to survive – like Joe Freitas – don’t want to end up a statistic when the next group of numbers is released.
On Wednesday he spent time at Best Buy figuring out what to buy with the gift cards that he received for Christmas – noting that he wouldn’t be buying anything out of pocket for a while.
“Right now is the slowest time of year for my trade, and I’m just lucky to be getting work right now at all,” Freitas said who is in his 30s.. “Sure there are some things in this store I’d like to take home, but right now isn’t the best time to be making big purchases.”
But while the number of holiday purchases has increased, the Conference Board – the organization that releases the consumer confidence index – announced that 2010 was the second-worst year in the past quarter century statistically speaking.
While 19-year-old Jim Johnson says that he doesn’t follow the business or financial news, he does realize that spending his money on things like electronics or video games – a sector that actually improved over last year in terms of overall sales – isn’t the smartest idea.
“It’s not like I have a career right now or anything,” Johnson said. “I’m still going to school, but just because I’m a student doesn’t mean I have to be broke. I want to learn how to manage my money the right way this year so I can make sure that I have it when the time comes that I need it.”