Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Saving money during the holidays

The holiday season is officially upon us. Black Friday deals come and gone- and hopefully did not do too much damage to your wallets. There were some hot deals this year!

Our economy is on a slow but steady incline and we are seeing ups and downs every day. Now that it is time to start buying those Christmas gifts, there are a number of things you can do to save money this year. The most important thing you should to when shopping, is compare prices. Here are some other very important shopping tips:

  1. Make a spending plan- start planning and budgeting now. Start with a realistic idea of what you can afford, including travel, holiday parties, entertainment, and self-indulgencies. Know your limits- if you don’t have the money, don’t spend it! If you're unable to spend as much on gifts this year, prioritize for whom you really want to buy gifts.
  2. Track your spending- it’s like balancing your checkbook. Do this every time you make a purchase
  3. Shop with a list- a list will help you know for whom you are shopping and what you plan to purchase. This will cut down on expensive impulsive purchases.
  4. Shop early- this will allow you more time to compare prices and get the best deals
  5. Be an educated consumer- know your return policies, shipping rates, gift card fine print and more
  6. Load up your wallet with cash- spending cash beats using credit every time and it’s easier to know how much money you have left in your budget. Here’s a tip: use envelopes with each gift recipient’s name on it. In the envelope, place the amount of money you are planning to spend on that person. If you go over, you must borrow from another envelope, if you have some left over- move the money to another envelope and splurge on someone special.
  7. Use credit judiciously- using credit this time of year is sometimes unavoidable but be careful. We all know the dangers of using credit cards too much. If you are going to use them, use the ones with low interest rates and avoid using the store cards unless you plan to pay them off in January.

8. 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.

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