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Fri, Oct. 18

The highs and lows of Arizona Christmas spending

PHOENIX -- If you’re expecting a Christmas gift from an Arizonan this year you might want to hope it’s coming from someone in Gilbert and not Tucson.

It’s not that Tucsonans are bad people. But the financial advice web site WalletHub figures that, given their finances, they should be spending less on presents this year than those elsewhere in the Arizona cities studied.

How different? A lot.

WalletHub starts with the median monthly income for Gilbert residents at $7,170.

It factors in age, debt-to-income ratios and monthly expenses. The it considers how much the typical household has in savings that to its expenses.

Run that through what WalletHub says is its “proprietary algorithm’’ and WalletHub sets the holiday spending budget at an average of $1,118 on gifts this year. That’s good enough to rank it No. 61 nationwide..

Tucson? Not so much. Figuring in monthly income of $3,180 and everything else, WalletHub puts the holiday budget at $381 That’s 518 out of the 570 cities studied.

Other Arizona communities studied fall somewhere in between.

Based on all the factors, WalletHub figures Chandler residents should be spending $854, followed by Scottsdale at $841. Goodyear logs in at $805 for gifts, with Peoria at $756, Surprise at $747 and $691 for San Tan Valley.

Then there’s a big gap til you get to Avondale with anticipated budget of $572, Tempe weighing in at $536 and $530 for Flagstaff.

Mesa logs in at $512, with $443 for Phoenix, $460 for Glendale, $443 for Yuma -- and finally Tucson holding up the bottom.

One thing that did become clear is that Arizonans should be spending less this Christmas than they did a year ago.

In some cases, the differences are small. The budget for a typical Yuma household has dropped by only a dollar since 2015. And Gilbert spending is down by $48.

But there’s a drop of almost a third in the budget for seasonal spending by Chandler residents. And it’s down by even more than that in Tucson.

WalletHub spokeswoman Jill Gonzalez said it’s not that her organization can actually predict that people will spend less. But she said that the statistics show that’s what they should be doing.

“The drop is mostly attributed to the increase of the debt-to-income ratio,’’ Gonzalez said.

Consider: In 2015 that ratio for Tucson was 33.4 percent. It now is 53.5 percent.

“Residents are racking up debt faster than they can pay it off,’’ she said, making a lower holiday budget a better choice.

Got relatives outside the Grand Canyon State?

You might be interested to know that all that Silicon Valley money puts Palo Alto at the top of the holiday budget list at $2,821. Sunnyvale, just up the road, is No. 4.

The Houston suburbs of League City, Sugar Land, Pearland and Missouri City Texas show up in the No. 2, 3, 5 and 6 slots in the WalletHub rankings.

And there are far worse places to have relatives if you’re looking for Christmas gifts, with Brockton and Springfield, Mass. holding down the bottom of the list.

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