“It’s easy to let the spirit of the season turn into a spending tsunami that ends up costing more than expected.” – NerdWallet personal finance expert Kimberly Palmer
Top 5 holiday spending tips
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – If you are like a lot of holiday shoppers, myself included, you may find yourself resolving every year to take advantage of more services, promotions and sales in order to stretch your holiday budget.
Unfortunately for me, that never happens. I find myself, every year, braving the cold and the crowds in the days leading up to Christmas angrily searching bare shelves with all the other procrastinators only to end the outing spending too much on gifts from the “B-list.”
To help prevent that January spending hangover, here are a few top tips to get you (and your bank account) through this shopping season with minimal damage.
Do your shopping online, if possible.
In an era of “next day delivery” and “free shipping,” online shopping is increasingly becoming almost as convenient as brick and mortar shops.
But, regardless whether or not you do your shopping online, it is recommended to at least go online to compare prices, as many retailers will match competitor prices.
Set a budget.
In an article on the topic, NerdWallet personal finance expert Kimberly Palmer said:
“It’s easy to let the spirit of the season turn into a spending tsunami that ends up costing more than expected.”
She recommends making a list of recipients and then deciding beforehand how much you will spend on each. And then stop when you reach that set amount.
“The holidays carry so much excitement and emotion, and for many of us spending is part of the celebration. That’s why getting an early start on budgeting is so important,” Palmer said.
Set a time limit on your shopping trips.
Many sites list tricks used by retailers to distract shoppers and loosen purse strings. These include complimentary snacks or drinks, holiday music playing in the background and the gingerbread air freshener to name a few.
By limiting the amount of time you spend in each store and having a plan (see tip #2), you minimize the temptation to abandon your lists and start impulse buying.
Shop on Christmas Eve.
This may seem counterintuitive, but for all those (myself included) that will not heed the sound advice promoting pre-planning and preparation, the day before Christmas may be the best day to venture out for last minute deals without having to wade through a sea of shoppers.
Although it is doubtful you will find many “A-list” gifts, most people are finished shopping by Christmas Eve so there should be no need to wrestle anyone over any hidden jewels you manage to find.
Embrace the gift card.
The days of gift cards being looked at as an impersonal gift are over. In an age where non-local retailers are as accessible as the shops down the street and downloadable digital products like music, games, movies and streaming services dominate the home entertainment market gift cards are increasingly becoming the “go to” gift.
So, as with most things, having a plan will help keep frustration and spending to a minimum.
And to reiterate a tip common to every list and surely at the root of all holiday spending disasters—know when you are finished.
Merry Christmas and God bless.