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Seven Smart Holiday Spending Tips

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Seven Smart Holiday Spending Tips
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November
12

Before sitting down to your holiday dinner later this month, it’s wise to set up a spending strategy. Those Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that follow Thanksgiving are hard to resist, and shopping without a budget could leave consumers in over their heads.

Here are seven tips that the American Bankers Association (ABA) says will help shoppers manage spending and enjoy the holiday season:


  1. Plan before you shop. Before heading to the store, look at your income and expenses and make a realistic budget. If you have money saved for the holidays, add it to the cash you’ll have left after paying bills. That’s your budget. Think carefully before using a credit card to cover any shortfall. Will you be able to pay it off in January?

  2. Track expenses. It’s not only spending on gifts that adds up. It’s also postage, wrapping, decorations, cards, food, gas, plane tickets, tips and holiday donations. Keep track of what you spend on all these things, not just on presents.

  3. Keep the list under control. Make a list of family and close friends you plan to buy gifts for, and set an amount for each person. Try to limit your list as much as possible.

  4. Shop early and carefully. Don’t shop when you are under pressure or in a rush. Do some research online before you head out, so you can compare prices and make wise purchasing decisions.

  5. Don’t get thrown off course. Avoid falling for sales that tempt you to buy things that aren’t on your list, and don’t sign up for store credit cards just to get 10% off somewhere you don’t plan to shop frequently.

  6. Be careful with credit. Credit cards are great for getting rewards on purchases you were going to make anyway, but try not to use them to stretch your shopping budget. Only use credit to buy things that are within your budget; that way you can pay the balance in full in January and collect credit card rewards at the same time.

  7. Hold on to receipts. You need receipts for two reasons: to keep track of your spending, and to facilitate returns. If you are worried about collecting paper clutter, don’t worry. They don’t have to be paper receipts – you can get them emailed to you or take a picture and keep track digitally. Apps like Shoeboxed can help you do this.

And if you don’t have a savings account, add that to your New Year’s resolution list to help budget for next year.

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