Smart Financial Holiday Shopping Tips

It’s that time of year again.  The time of year where stores display all of their “best deals of the year,” and we as consumers are urged to spend, spend, spend.  If you aren’t careful, holiday shopping can get even the best of budgeters in a bind.  That’s why you have to be smart and intentional with your holiday shopping.  Here are a few ways to stay smart and spend wisely over the next month.

Have a Game Plan

The first tip to being smart with your holiday shopping is to have a game plan.  If you are being budget conscious this holiday season, a game plan will keep you from spending extra money.  Make a list of everyone you need to buy gifts for.  Write down how much you are wanting to spend for each particular person.  If you have any ideas of what you want to buy them, include that on your list too.  This sounds simple, but you would be surprised at how many people don’t take the time to do this and then end up overspending.  If you stick to your game plan, you will be spending your money wisely this holiday season.

Compare Prices

Now that you have your plan in place, it’s time to do some research.  Compare prices of the items you want to buy with different stores to find the best possible price.  You can do this through all the sales ads you get in the paper, or you can download an app like Flipp, which has all the sales ads in one place on your mobile device.  If you are out on the go and happen to see something you want to buy, you can always go to Amazon or download a price check app on your phone so you can compare prices on the spot in the store.  However you go about it, the point is to look at all the stores to get the best price before buying your gifts.

Use Cash Over Credit

It’s a proven fact that people spend more money when using their credit card rather than cash.  It has something to do with the mentality of actually having to hand over the paper bills versus blindly scanning your card through a reader.  So if your holiday shopping goals revolve around sticking to a budget or spending your money more wisely, then it is best to use cash for every gift you buy.  You will automatically be held accountable for what you spend because you will have to produce the actual money at the register.  Another perk to using cash to buy everything is that you won’t have any pesky credit card bills hanging around long after the holidays are gone.

Sign-Up For Emails

If you do a lot of shopping online, signing up for emails can be a great idea.  Most of the time, if you sign up for an email list on store websites, you will get a coupon delivered immediately to your inbox.  However, many people don’t sign up for them because they hate getting tons of “junk” mail from companies after the coupon is used.  If using your personal email address makes you uncomfortable, just set up an alternate email address that is solely for online shopping.  Direct all the emails and coupons to that address, and you won’t have to bog down your regular email with lots of junk.  You can check the alternate address every once in awhile to see if there are any more sales, deals, or coupons, but you won’t have to worry with it every day.  

Look Ahead To Next Year

The easiest way to stay on budget is to have room in your budget to spend.  If you plan ahead all year for the holidays, you will be way ahead of the game.  WCU offers a Christmas Club Savings Account that can help you toward your holiday goals.  With a Christmas Club account, you can get a certain amount automatically taken out of your checking account each month and put in a special savings account just for the holidays.  When the holidays roll around, you are given all the money in your account to spend on holiday gifts.  It’s an easy and effective way to save up for the holidays without even really noticing it.  Since it is spread out over the whole year, you won’t have to come up with a bunch of money come November to buy gifts.  Stop by your local WCU office to find out more about the Christmas Club.

Spending money wisely around the holidays isn’t hard, you just have to put some intention behind your actions to get the ball moving in the right direction.  With a little research, a game plan, coupons, and sales you will be on the right track for the holidays in no time!

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