Unfortunately, it’s very easy for us to exceed our budgets during the holiday season. Experts predict consumers will spend $302 over Thanksgiving weekend and $700 on holiday shopping alone. Add in unexpected travel, meal and party plans, and it isn’t hard to see how the holidays can put a serious dent in even the most fiscally responsible consumer’s wallet. It might seem like a difficult task to stay on track during the holidays, but we’ve compiled a list of eight great tips to help you budget responsibly and keep on track this holiday season.
Get in the habit of using a shopping list.
Nada Zaki, owner/designer of House of Zada Jewelry, says a shopper’s best friend during the holidays is the oft-neglected shopping list. “The key to shopping during those days is to have a shopping list already at hand. If you go online or in the store looking for good deals, you are guaranteed to overspend because some deals are hard to pass up and often exceed your budget.”
Look for retailers who favor end-of-year sales.
Brian Nickerson, cofounder/CEO of Chippmunk.com, advises looking for online retailers who save the best deals for the end of the year. “Shop smart by using coupons and sales particularly at online retailers, who discount significantly in Q4 from early October all the way through the end of December.”
Be socially savvy.
Stephanie Nelson, founder of CouponMom.com, says social networks are consumers’ new friends. “Sign up for the email newsletters of favorite retailers and shopping malls. Follow a retailer’s social networking page to get access to special coupons or limited-time flash sales.”
Be a smart procrastinator.
Karl Quist, president of PriceBlink.com, says it can pay to be a procrastinator. “If you can, hold off on brand-name electronics and apparel, which generally favor the procrastinator as prices on these items tend to fall over time and are often lowest after Christmas.”
Seek out added savings.
Brent Shelton from Fatwallet.com recommends looking for additional savings. “Look for added savings like cash back, store discounts and coupons to stack with the sale-priced items on your list.”
Compare prices, especially online.
Thanks to online retailers, consumers have the opportunity to get the best prices, simply because of the ability to easily comparison shop. Stephanie Nelson advises consumers to take the time to compare. “When you are shopping for a specific item, compare prices online on the item before hitting the store or making your online purchase. Prices can vary significantly, and an online retailer may offer free shipping and have no sales tax.”
Track your spending.
Brian Nickerson advises setting a budget and tracking your progress along the way. It seems simple, but it’s also a difficult thing to remember to do, especially when you pay for items using credit or debit cards. Keep track of your spending using a check register, or spending app, to make sure you stay on track.
If appropriate, bundle up.
If you or someone on your list has a favorite retailer, Brian Nickerson advises planning out your purchases and taking advantage of savings offers that apply to high purchase minimums. If a retailer offers $20 off a purchase of $75 or more, be strategic and get all your shopping done at once to take advantage of those savings.