The holiday season is often the biggest budget breaker of the year for many people. Too many impulse buys, last minute gifts, and must-have gifts can turn the holiday budget into a spending spree. The January credit card bill then becomes a dreaded event. There are ways, however, to avoid going into major debt this holiday season. The following five shopping tips can help to prevent overspending this holiday shopping season and even save a few dollars.
Make a List and Check it Twice
Santa makes a list and so should holiday shoppers. Checking it twice, or even a few dozen times, can be helpful with keeping an ongoing list of which gifts you need to buy, as well as those you may have purchased and forgot about.
Read the Holiday Ads and Shop Around
Holiday advertisements will be filling mailboxes this year, tempting shoppers everywhere with brightly colored ads and must-have gift ideas. Read the fine print. In reality, a buy one item, get one 50% off boils down to a simple math equation which makes each item a total of 25% off since you must buy both. Buy one get one free deals offer greater savings, so think twice before taking the buy one get one 50% off bait.
Many popular chain stores will be offering the same hot holiday gifts this year for similar prices. Pay attention to the going rates for specific gifts and shop around. The retailers want your spending dollar so choose the sweetest deal before buying. If you have a general idea of what the regular price is, you will better be able to determine how great a deal it is when offered on sale.
Consider Online Holiday Shopping
Don’t forget about online sales. Online sales are sometimes even better deals when you can avoid shipping costs and sales tax. This can also help save some gas money and time spent driving around town shopping. Many stores this year are offering many of the same sales items they sell in stores through online purchase. Look for online codes and special deals to save even more money. Websites such as www.gottadeal.com even have forums for online shopping sales and the latest hot deals.
Avoid Impulse Buys and Last Minute Shopping
Impulse buys should come with a mandatory ten minute time out to think before you make it to the check-out line. One of the worst holiday shopping mistakes is to get distracted with impulse buys. The retailers love shoppers who are easily tempted by the newest gadgets or must-have holiday gift items. So think twice before buying the latest video game system when you already have last year’s newest still in use. Not only will you be overspending about $400, but many times you will also have to purchase a brand new library of video games specific to that video game system.
Last minute shopping is another way shoppers often end up spending too much money. Wandering the local mall on Christmas Eve with a mile long shopping list to fulfill will leave you at the mercy of buying whatever you can find last minute. Though some last minute gifts can be purchased for discount prices, you will be more likely to spend just about anything just to have the gifts in hand. Shopping over the course of at least a month before the holidays is a better way to find sales and save money.
Use Cash or Debit Cards Instead of Credit Cards
Unless your credit card offers exceptional rewards for holiday gift purchases, put it away unless absolutely necessary. If you do use it for online shopping or other purchases, make it a point to pay at least part of it the day you use it. This will avoid interest charges and keep the balance due from skyrocketing in January.
Debit cards are better on the holiday budget and easy to use for most online or in store gift purchases. Debit cards will help to shoppers to only spend what they have available in their accounts, preventing the kind of extra gift purchases that we sometimes think we can pay off by May when using a credit card. Cash purchases can help shoppers stay within budget the most since money spent is permanently gone from the purse or wallet. There’s nothing like an empty wallet to remind us of how much we shopped that day.