Black Friday deals are starting earlier than ever this year and that means more pressure to spend, spend spend! The National Retail Federation forecasts holiday sales will rise 4.1% to $586.1 billion this year, a bigger increase than has been typical over the last 10 years. Shoppers are expected to spend an average $749.51 in November and December, with many shelling out more. Now I ask you, can you imagine doing all of your holiday shopping without putting a single dime on credit? How great would that be? Shopping and gift giving should be exciting and fun. Receiving the first credit card bill is not and if overspending becomes an issue it can wreak havoc on a monthly budget. Here are a few ways to avoid overspending this holiday season.
Create a budget before you shop.
Make a list of everyone you want to buy a gift for. Then create a list of ideas they might want or need. Start your shopping online so you can compare prices and look for deals before you get into a store. The internet has made it easier than ever to be a savy shopper. And don’t forget the cost of cards, wrapping paper and postage.
Although stores stopped layaway for a few years, some of the major retailers across the country have bought it back just for the holidays. Wal-Mart and Kmart are most known for having layaway. Pick out a gift and then pay for it a little at a time. This way you don’t have to pay for it all at once and you will have the perfect gift and no extra debt by the holiday.
Watch out for the big sales.
Sure, buy two get one free seems like a good idea, but is it really? I mean, how can free ever be a bad idea? Do you need three sweaters? Probably not, but if the free gift is something that can be given universally, it might be wise to stock up.
Don’t be afraid to shop online.
Utilizing the Internet to shop for gifts can be a great way to save money on items on your loved ones’ wish lists. All major retailers have websites where you can comparison shop and stay within your budget. Many retailers also often offer free shipping on certain days. Shopping online can also save you money on trips to the mall.
Leave credit cards at home, shop with cash only.
The temptation of credit cards makes it easier to spend more than you can actually afford during the holiday season. Studies show that people who use cash only are more likely to spend less and stay within their holiday budget.
Create a gift box.
All year long stock up on generic, fun gifts when the price is right and keep a box of all the items (like candles and fun socks) in case someone brings you a gift when you weren’t expecting one. Having small, but fun gifts on hand can help keep your budget in check for the holidays.
Plan a head and save.
Although it’s too late for this holiday season, it’s never too early to plan ahead and save for next year. With each paycheck you receive throughout the calendar year, save a portion for your holiday needs. Create a separate savings account for the purpose of being used for the holiday season. Many banks and credit unions have accounts for just this purpose.
Most importantly, if you can’t afford the gift, don’t buy it.
Only you know what your monthly budget can and can not afford. Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to not spend. It’ll save you the heartache of the overspending blues in January.
I want you to feel confident when you go shopping this holiday season, not scared of what the first credit card bill will bring. Let us help you create a plan. Call today at 877-577-2227 or visit our website, ConquerYourDebt.org to take the first step toward creating a working budget.
Author Sarah Packingham is a DMP Specialist at LSS. Questions? Email us today!