One Thing To Accept: You will probably spend a lot of money this holiday season, and there is no way around it.
The temptations are pretty much irresistible. From carefully selected music to elaborate decorations, from superbly choreographed light shows to exquisite smells, retailers are using every trick in the book to whisk your worries away and help you open your wallet.
How To Deal: Follow these holiday financial tips, of course! They will help you improve your chances of financial survival.
Budget and Purchasing Tricks for This Holiday Season
1. BUDGET FOR FUN (SERIOUSLY!)
Fun celebration is what holidays are really about, not the “shop till you drop” mantra. So set aside some fun money. Do things you really enjoy. A year from now you won’t remember what you bought, but you will remember experiences you had.
2. SET YOUR SHOPPING BUDGET AND STICK TO IT
Be careful with plastic. Don’t use a credit card unless you can pay your balance in full before the next due date. Work with the funds you have and resist the temptation of borrowing from a credit card. You don’t want to keep paying interest on your holiday shopping for months and years to come. Another budget tip: don’t feel like coming in under budget means you don’t love your family and friends. It may just mean you’re a smart shopper.
3. PLAN A SHOPPING LIST
Don’t walk into a store or click to a website without a plan; that’s a blueprint for overspending. Know what’s really important to your loved ones when it comes to gift giving and try to avoid the latest (and usually most expensive) gadgets that will become old news in just a few months. Buy something that they’ll be able to enjoy as time marches on. Psst, be a gracious gift-giver – enclose the receipt just in case.
4. USE A CASH BACK OR REWARDS CREDIT CARD
If you’re sure you can pay off your purchase during the grace period, this is a great time to use a card with rewards or cash back. Many rewards cards also offer lower or even zero introductory rates for retail spending around holidays. You could be saving money on shopping you’re already planning.
5. GOT A PRESENT YOU DON’T WANT? RETURN OR EXCHANGE IT
We promised tips for before you start partying, but here is a bonus for after. Consider returning or exchanging the presents you don’t want or can’t use. Try not to feel guilty about it, especially if the giver was kind enough to enclose the receipt. In the end, you will have spent a lot of money during the holidays and could use a little break, too.
It’s not easy to resist retailers’ marketing gimmicks when everything around you whispers, shouts and screams buy, buy, buy, but it’s completely doable. Resist the lure, invest in your own experiences, stick to the budget and enjoy stress-less or at least stress-reduced holidays without carrying a pile of debt into the New Year.