Christmas season is fast approaching. For those who grapple with limited finances, it is deemed important to prepare the budget for holiday shopping. Start planning today to avoid the Christmas rush and end up making bad choices.
Sandy Shore, the senior counselor for Novadebt, a New Jersey-based Credit counseling agency, says planning the Christmas shopping helps consumers avoid stress.
Check out these wise shopping tips:
1. Figure out how much money you need to spend for the holidays. List all the people you will shop for, set a spending limit for each, and think of brilliant gift ideas. To avoid increasing your debts, pay with cash or use a debit card. You may also set up a special bank account to pay for your purchases.
2. Shop strategically. Visit online sites to find the best deals. If you are looking for various items, you may register with Shopzilla, Shopping, Pricegrabber, Shopittome, Groupon and other sites to receive the latest promos on a wide range of goods. Shopittome looks for deals on branded clothing and accessories, and updates customers on the latest trends. Groupon deals to a given area specified by the site members.
3. Start early. According to dealnews.com editor-in-chief, Daniel de Grandpre, people usually begin shopping the day after Thanksgiving. However, this is not necessarily the best day to look for bargains. Stores usually offer promotions during this time, but Grandpre reveals that the perfect time to buy toys is two weeks before Christmas. This is the time when stores would raise discounts, especially on items that are not selling fast. However, if you want the must-haves, you must start looking now or end up in a bidding war.
4. Refurbished gadgets are perfect gift ideas. Shefinds.com and Momfinds.com founder Michele Madhok recommends Apple and Delloutlet. These sites offer the same warrantees on slightly used products and those which were returned unused. Dell spokesperson Bob Kaufman reveals discounts on dell items may reach up to 20 percent.
5. Consider card rewards. Some credit card companies and their partner retailers reward shoppers with points or cash when they spend a certain amount.
While Wells Fargo gives back one percent of a card holder's monthly purchase, Bank of America gives back up to 20 percent to its customers when they make card purchases in about three hundred retailers.
Other cards and malls offer similar promotions. However, Jim Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University warns against the use of these programs since it can encourage card holders to buy unnecessary items, just to avail of the programs.