There is a dark cloud looming over consumer's spending habits. Data from the Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index reveals shoppers are feeling downright downtrodden with our economy. In fact, January's index, a mere 58.6, is its lowest level in more than a year. In December, the index was at 66.7. Indeed, consumer confidence seems to be dwindling. However, I'm feeling financially optimistic. Furthermore, a decline in consumer confidence isn't going to get me down. Here's why.
It's likely the increase in the payroll tax is one of the main reasons consumers are disenchanted. Due to the end of the payroll tax holiday, many people have had to deal with a 2 percent increase in Social Security taxes. However, since my husband is a teacher, we never reaped the benefits of the tax holiday because public educators do not pay into social security. Thus, this really hasn't changed our financial situation.
My family and I have always received a decent tax return. This year I'm hoping to get back about $3000. Our family will take this extra money and use it for household renovations and repairs. We will also use it to pay off my husband's school loan. In addition, I will take this opportunity to buy new bath towels and shoes for the kids. Typically, we file early so I hope to have this money by early March. While I don't count on this money to live, it does make me a more confident consumer. In fact, I'm likely to spend more money during tax season then I do during the holidays.
In January, the unemployment rate went up to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent. This isn't the most positive news. Yet, I see a lot of financial opportunity around me. From freelance writing work to paid surveys, there are many ways for me to make money. These opportunities help me to feel financially secure and more willing to spend. As a stay-at-home mom, I'm not in the market for a full time job. However, I like the fact that I can make some side money writing.
Although I can't foresee the future, my family hasn't had any major expenses in the past few months. This has allows us to save some money and pay off debt. This helps me have a more positive outlook towards spending. In addition to his full time teaching career, my husband also coaches high school sports. Knowing my husband is bringing home a paycheck each month is reassuring.
I hope consumer confidence bounces back and the unemployment rate goes down. This is best for the entire country. Until then, I will do my best to seek out job opportunities while counting my financial blessings. This is how I stay upbeat in these uncertain economic times.
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