December 6, 2010 Leave a comment
Happy Holidays! My name is Bridget Thornton and I am an intern with Katie Camplin at the Community Center. I just wanted to pass along some tips I came across on how to do all of your holiday shopping on a budget. I will list for you here the tips that you can utilize during this busy time of year.
1. Make a spending plan:
Start with a realistic idea of how much you can spend on all your holiday purchases. Make a list of everything you usually buy, from the gifts to food to entertainment to travel expenses, and tally the costs.
“If you don’t budget and set a specific dollar limit, then your spending grows and grows and grows. In January you’ll be horrified by how much you’ve spent,” says Mari Adam, a Certified Financial Planner in Boca Raton, Fla. “And, don’t get locked into the thought that how much you spend measures how good of a person you are.”
2. Know your limits:
Make a list of gift recipients and decide how much you want to spend on each person.If you’re unable to spend as much on gifts this year, prioritize for whom you really want to buy gifts. Then communicate your plans to family and friends.
3. Track your spending:
You’ve made a spending plan at this point, which is great! But if you don’t keep track of your purchases and make sure you’re staying within your budget, you’ve wasted your time. Write down everything you spend on holiday clothing, cards, postage, wrapping paper and decorations, reminds Dvorkin. “Don’t forget that these holiday expenses add up and need to be tracked on your budget.”
4. Shop with a list:
Know what you want to buy, and go to the store with a list. You can zip through the stores faster and are more apt to avoid impulse buying, says Dvorkin. When you have finished shopping, stop.
5. Shop early:
The best window for holiday shopping is between Oct. 1 and Dec. 1,” says Dvorkin. “Don’t wait until the last minute. Give yourself time to compare prices and find the best deals.” An all-out shopping spree leaves you exhausted from shopping, tempting you to buy the next thing you see regardless of cost. Last-minute shoppers are unlikely to save money.
6. Be an educated consumer:
Comparison-shopping stretches your holiday funds further. Fight the urge to get your shopping over quickly, recommends the Consumer Federation of America and the Credit Union National Association. Instead, take some extra time to find the best deal before heading off to the stores by scouring catalogs, sales advertisements and the Internet.
7. Carry cash in your wallet, if possible:
Leave your credit cards at home. “Spend cash. This will force you to budget and make overspending more obvious,” says Dvorkin. According to the CCCS, people spend up to a third more when paying with credit instead of cash. There is no emotional attachment to plastic like there is to cash.
8. Use credit judiciously:
Shop with no more than two credit cards — preferably low-interest rate credit cards, not the expensive department store cards. The more cards you use, the harder it is to track spending. Use one with a zero balance for purchases you will pay off in full. Use the other, low-interest rate credit card for purchases you plan to pay off over the next few months, suggests Myvesta.org.
9) Beware of sales pitches:
Don’t shop under the influence of holiday hype. Retailers work hard to entice you to buy, buy and buy. If you’re not careful, you’ll spend more than you planned. Don’t fall for credit card offers to “skip a payment.” You’ll just pay more in interest next month. Watch out for the “buy now and pay later” offers that encourage you to spend money you don’t have. And, bypass applying for the department store credit card to get a one-time discount.
Most importantly you can limit the amount of time and energy you spend on gifts and make it more about spending time with friends, family, traditions and creating memories.
I hope everyone has a safe, and happy holiday season!