Tips for Avoiding a Holiday Spending Hangover
Oct 21, 2010 1:22 PM EDT
Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, which means holiday shopping season is just around the corner.
When it comes to holiday shopping, the earlier you start, the better off your budget.
"Don't procrastinate financial planning," said Brandon Corso, a director of financial planning at Edelman Financial Services. "Too many people overspend and end the holiday season with credit card debt."
Here are four rules to get everything on your holiday wish list and still ring in the New Year debt free.
Evaluate Your Finances
According to the experts, starting your holiday spending now allows you to skip the use of credit cards and save more compared to waiting until the last minute.
Financial planner Lou Scatigna says if you're on a bi-weekly paycheck schedule, starting now will allow you to have at least five paychecks between now and the holidays.
"Realistically, you have to evaluate your financial situation," says Scatigna. "It's imperative to set a budget."
Make a List
Create a list of who you need to buy gifts for and your total budget for the holiday season.
Look at your holiday shopping list with a frugal eye, says Kay, and mark each person with gift, card or baked good.
Once you start spending, write down what and how much you spend. Seeing your purchases on paper will keep you from breaking your budget.
Be sure to take into account costs like taxes, shipping and wrapping each gift, which can really add up, recommends Corso.
Do Your Homework Online
The Internet opens up a whole new world of cutting costs and comparing prices.
"Become a researcher this holiday season," says Scatigna. "Be familiar with search engines and sites like eBay, Amazon and Google to compare prices, good deals and discounts."
Don't Miss Key Sales
It might seem odd to see Christmas displays alongside Halloween decorations, but consumers should take advantage of eager retailers.
"Holiday sales start earlier each year, and Black Friday can be a gold mind for shoppers," Kay says. "Make it a fun event for the whole family by strategizing and planning out your shopping. Be purposeful, and you can save at least half of what you would normally spend."
Kay said you can cut costs further by asking merchants if they honor competitors' ads.