Have a holiday check-list? Decorate the house, prepare the winter clothes, unpack the sleds and shovels… check, check, and double-check. But, are you preparing financially for the holiday season?
Black Friday and other holiday sales can be a double-edged sword for shoppers. Shop smart and you can save a lot, but fail to plan and it may cost you. Here are a few tips to help you harness the power of the holiday mark-down:
Create a budget – Whether it’s on an iPad or a post-it, have your budget written down. It’s the same principle as using a list while grocery shopping to avoid buying more food than you can eat before it spoils. A concrete set of spending rules will help keep you on task. Decide how much you’ll spend before you even look at the ads and you’ll be less likely to make impulse buys.
Charge it! – Don’t be afraid to use your debit card when buying during holiday sales. Find out from your nearest westbury bank location what spending benefits and/or IDEAL Rewards program and what warranty coverage is included on debit card purchases. Using your debit card will also help you maintain your budget.
Search for gifts online – The vast majority of the US population has made an online purchase (94% according to a 2008 Nielsen survey) and as many as 23% shopped online on Black Friday last year. Visit each store’s site to see if you can buy the product cheaper in the store or online. If you plan to buy online, remember to factor shipping costs into your budget. Many retailers also offer internet-only coupons and/or additional discounts you can print off and bring along with you.
Don’t leave ads at home – Bringing ads and coupons along for the ride allows you to take advantage of price matching or “best price” sales. Proof that another store is selling the same product for less can be great leverage for the savvy shopper!
Make a schedule – Have a game plan prepared to avoid missing any sale times. Some stores have sales starting right when they open (the infamous “door-busters”) while others may not go into effect until a few hours after the store opens. Find out how many sale items will be stocked to avoid waiting in a massive line with nothing to show for it at the checkout. Plan your store-to-store route around sale times as well as store location.
With a little planning and some smart money habits the holiday sales season is reason to celebrate! Happy shopping!