The excitement and anticipation of the holiday season is here and so are the advertisements announcing all the great deals available. “Black Friday,” the biggest shopping day of the year, is fast approaching and with all of the excellent sales, it is important to know your budget and stick with it.
Purchasing more than you can afford can ruin your holiday and start the New Year on a sour note. Here are a few tips to avoid getting too caught up in the season of giving.
Look at your monthly budget and determine a realistic amount that can be spent on holiday gifts.
Make a list of everyone you need to purchase gifts for and those you may want to buy gifts.
Set a limit on how much you will spend on each person on your list.
Add to your gift budget any money to be spent on holiday cards, postage, decorations and holiday entertainment.
Compare your gift budget against the money you first determined you really had available to spend and make adjustments where you can.
Determine where to shop and shop early. This will give you time to comparison shop as well as the ability to weigh deeper discounts closer to the holidays versus limited selection of items.
When beginning your shopping experience, consider using these tools for monitoring and managing your spending:
Take only one credit card with you as it is easier to keep track of purchases if you are using one account rather than several. Pay off the balance as early as possible so you are not still paying for the gifts you purchased six, 12 or more months ago, with interest.
Use a debit card which acts like a check and will only access available funds. Simply create your budget and have those funds in your account on the day of your shopping trip.
Avoid credit offers. They are tempting for purchasing a gift more expensive than what you have budgeted. The deal may be great at first, but can later become a problem when the balance is due.
Consumers are also encouraged to determine a budget for next year’s holiday season and set up a separate holiday spending account. In the coming year, put a set amount away each month. This is far easier than waiting until November or December.
Remember, the key to a less stressful holiday is to take charge of your holiday with responsible spending. Don’t let it take charge of you.