Holiday Shopping Tips

It’s easy to get caught up in the sprit of giving and spend way more than you intend. This year, make a commitment to shop wisely.

Set your spending limit
Subtract the total of your expenses from your income for the next month. Add the leftover sum to any cash you’ve already saved for the holidays. Expect a bonus or other financial gift in the near future? Add that in too.

Now consider the amount of cash you have. How much of it are you comfortable parting with for the holidays? The amount you decide is your spending limit. Read Before You Buy, Know What You Can Afford for more tips on how to refine spending.

Make a list
An effective list requires detail – what you intend to buy, for whom, where you’ll get it, and the top price you are willing to pay. Include gifts, decorations and cards, special food and drink, and travel expenses. Total the cost. If it exceeds your spending limit, return to the list and scale back until you break even.

Choose a payment method
Cash is fine for inexpensive items, but it’s a good idea to use plastic for the bulk of your purchases. All forms of plastic provide detailed statements so you can easily monitor your spending, and charge and credit cards come with valuable consumer laws that protect you against billing errors and unsatisfactory items. Use the cash you’ve allotted for holiday spending to pay balances in full when the bill comes in. Don’t have a credit card yet? Click on How to Establish Credit for guidance.

Now stick to your list and limit!
Even the best-laid plans can evaporate once you enter the chaos of a mall in full holiday swing. To avoid overdoing it:

  • Take your shopping list with you and stick to it! Use the Fritter Finder to keep track of where you’re spending your cash during these busy shopping weeks.
  • Bring snacks and water. Why waste money you allotted for gifts and other holiday items on overpriced mall food and drink?
  • Don’t let guilt inspire you to overspend. An extra trinket or two won’t make someone love you more. Respect your financial guidelines.
  • Be aware of “up-selling.”  This is when salespeople try to talk you into buying a more expensive model than you came in for and push unnecessary warrantees and product extras.
Make the most of this season by taking the time to plan, staying true to your financial limit, using the best payment method, and practicing wise shopping techniques!
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