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Wise Holiday Shopping

Get control of your holiday spending now and you won’t faint when you open your first credit card bill in January!

Wise holiday shopping tactics:

Set a total budget for holiday spending. Estimate how much you can afford to spend, and set that figure as your TOTAL expense goal. And we mean TOTAL!

Make your shopping list and check it twice. Do you really need to buy this many gifts? See if you can pare it down a bit.

Make your holiday entertaining and gift list, and don’t go over budget. Establish a dollar budget for each person, and remember to include the cost of wrapping and shipping. Don’t forget to include any charitable donations, holiday meals, entertaining, gasoline, travel, and postage in your total list.

Resist impulse buys–stick to your plan!

Use a designated debit card just for holiday shopping. Load up your debit card with the amount you want to spend this season. Use it for all your purchases—that way you won’t overspend.

Don’t sign up for special financing plans or new credit cards. Additional store credit cards will only make overspending easier, as will 0% down and payment plans. If you have to, just make sure the final cost still fits into your budget!

Keep track of your spending. A simple list, or a notebook you can carry with you, will make it easier to keep notes on what you’re spending through the season. If you’re more comfortable on a computer, set up a spreadsheet to track your spending.

Don’t go shopping “just to look.”

Shop smart this holiday season:

You have a plan now! Watch prices on the items you need rather than try to power through your shopping in one day or one location.

Check sales flyers, sign up for store emails and coupons, and search online for promo codes.

Visit online comparison shopping websites such as to see if you are getting the best price.

Take advantage of discounts you qualify for: Senior citizen discount days, AAA membership, and student or military discounts.

Try discount stores when shopping for holiday meals, and gifts: dollar stores, closeout stores, warehouse clubs, craft shows, and swap meets, even online sites like Craigslist.

Have coupons you’re not using? Exchange them with friends and family.

Have points accumulating that are just sitting there? Use your airline, hotel, or credit cards points for gifts, gift cards, or even a gift of a vacation.

Pass up extended warranty plans. They aren’t worth the money, and the repair is likely to be cheaper than what the warranty will cost.

Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale—buy it because it is planned and fits in your budget. Even sale items will add up and inflate your holiday expenses.

Don’t let the salesperson “up-sell” you into adding more items or services to your purchase.

Save time and money by buying ingredients in bulk for holiday cooking. If you are talented, try food as a gift idea—cake or cookies in a decorative box, jam or spiced nuts in a decorated jar are all welcome gifts.

Don’t wait till the last minute to ship your gifts. Expedited shipping will immediately blow your holiday budget.

If possible, make some purchases after Christmas. Won’t see your best friend till after the holidays? Buy their present afterward and on sale! Also use after-Christmas sales to stock up for next year: wrapping paper, ribbon, cards, decorations, and gifts will all be marked down.

Keep your receipts! If you have to return, exchange or contest the price of a gift, you WILL need these.

Most important: Remember the real reason for the season, and enjoy and appreciate your friends, family, and life.

Happy holidays!

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