Here we are with Thanksgiving now behind us and the holiday season well underway. The next few weeks can be the busiest and most hectic time of the year, but it can also be the most memorable.
Enjoy all the glitter and fun but plan now to help avoid one of the most common causes of the post-holiday blues — the arrival of the January credit card bill!
Here are a few suggestions to help you keep the cost of the holidays under control.
- Plan your shopping list and stick with it.
This will help you shop with a mission rather than buying on impulse. In this post-recession era retailers have noticed that shoppers tend to come in with web research on brands and prices. They buy and leave. This decrease in browsing relates to less impulse buys.
- Research the best stores and prices in advance.
Scour the newspaper circulars and search online. Don’t just buy from the first store you shop. If you are informed before you step foot in the store you are more likely to get more for your dollar.
- Use cash and leave the credit card at home.
Shoppers who use cash end up spending 20 percent less on average. You don’t want to overspend and find yourself still paying for your Christmas gifts in April.
- Take advantage of the holiday promotions-within reason.
Many businesses offer tremendous sales and offers, which are targeted to attract the impulse buyer. First ask yourself if it’s something you need and will use or will it likely sit on a shelf waiting for the summer garage sale. If you answered yes to the latter, then move on. Remember, you don’t want to go broke saving money on useless things.
- Save your receipts.
Prices fluctuate over the holidays and many go down after Christmas day. Most businesses will only allow a return or refund the price difference with a receipt.
- Put off certain purchases till January.
Calendars for example, will drop as much as 50-70 percent in January. If you can wait just two to three weeks to buy one you’ll keep more money in your pocket.
- Buy and use Gift Cards wisely.
67 percent of holiday shoppers purchase gift cards. Retailers love this because 10-15 percent of the gift card recipients will never redeem the full value of the card. In addition, 40 percent of shoppers will redeem the card for items at full price because they don’t see it as valuable as they would cash in the same amount.
- Buy next year’s Christmas decorations & cards after the 25th.
Come December 26 retailers need to clear out their holiday merchandise as soon as possible. Take advantage of the steep discounts and stock up on any decorations, wrapping paper and cards you’ll need again in just 11 more months.
The most important advice to enjoy the holidays is to simply take a deep breath, slow down and enjoy the time with your family and friends.
Have a safe season!