5 holiday shopping money-savers
Make a list... Don’t rush... Avoid debt... Carry less cards and cash
Avoid five common mistakes and you’ll save money when you head to the mall this holiday season, says Clarifi, the non-profit financial literacy resource formerly known as Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Delaware Valley.
1. Do not carry your checkbook or more credit cards than you will use during your shopping trip. If your wallet is lost or stolen, this precaution will limit the damage.
Tip: Make a copy of the front and back of all credit cards, and put them in a safe place at home. In an emergency, you will have easy access to all your cards, the account numbers, and the bank’s customer service number to report the incident.
2. Do not carry large amounts of cash. Even if you are committed to paying for your purchases with cash, remember that pick-pockets take advantage of crowded areas and distracted people.
Tip: Instead, make frequent trips to the ATM to replenish your stash of cash. Or consider using a debit card for transactions. Make sure you hang on to receipts and record transactions in your check register to avoid overdrafts.
3. Do not shop while in a hurry. You’ll end up spending more than you should simply because you want to mark items off your shopping list.
Tip: Block out a specific time for shopping. Make your first trip a leisurely one to get an idea of what’s available this year and at what price. Take notes, and once back at home, get organized for the actual buying adventure.
4. Do not shop without a list. Santa thinks it’s a useful tool, and so should you.
Tip: Make your list specific. Include not only the names of those you’re buying gifts for, but also the specific item you’re looking for, and most importantly, the amount you intend to spend. Having an overall holiday budget floating around in your head isn’t good enough. Without a plan, you’re likely to overspend.
5. Do not pile new debt on top of old. Some people are still paying for last year’s holiday expenses as they enter this year’s buying season.
Tip: You’re buying for friends and relatives who will be the first to understand if you need to cut back. If you are in a tenuous financial situation, it will only be made worse through overspending. Consider writing a heartfelt note to those on your list, being sincere about your feelings toward them and why they mean so much to you. Most people can’t recall what they received last holiday season, but a personal note will be treasured.
Contact Clarifi for help creating a holiday budget or paying off your debts at 800-989-2227.