With the joy of the holidays comes the stress of over spending. Every year, many consumers overspend during the holidays, starting off the New Year in debt. But not to worry! You can make this year debt-free by creating a holiday budget and sticking to it.
Although retailers are anticipating an increase in holiday spending over last year, that doesn’t mean you have to spend more. According to the National Retail Federation, “American shoppers will spend just under $750 on average on their holiday purchases this year, with a record percentage of shoppers buying online.”
“Whatever your spending plan is, set a budget and stick to it. To get started, check out our Holiday Planner Calculator, which helps you compartmentalize your holiday budget into categories like gifts, travel and food”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas. “You set the overall budget and adjust it depending on your needs and plans for the holiday season.”
Make a list. Before you do any shopping, jot down a list of the persons to whom you wish to give a holiday gift.
Set a Limit. Look at your budget to see what amount you can afford to spend in on holiday-related purchases and then set limits for the amounts you will spend on each person.
Plan your purchases. Decide on what items you will buy online and which items you will purchase at local retailers.
Shop early. Not only is this tactic good for beating the crowds, ] it's also a way to ensure that you get the gifts on your list. Waiting until the last minute may constrain your ability to stick with your budget, as your selection will be limited. Once the popular items are gone, they're gone.
Be an educated consumer. Many retailers are offering holiday deals, but it’s always a good idea to comparison shop. Online prices may be better, but don’t forget to factor in shipping costs. Go to www.bbb.org to check out their BBB Business Reviews before you shop.
Beware of sales pitches. Falling prey to a high-pressure sales pitch could end up costing you in the end. BBB has received thousands of reports from individuals whose good judgment was clouded by an overly aggressive salesperson who pushed them into making a purchase.
Track your spending.
Keep a running total of your purchases and make sure you are adhering to your budget.
Avoid Shipping. If you plan on doing any online shopping, many retailers will offer free shipping as an incentive. When this is not available, make sure you shop around for the best price. If you are planning on sending gift cards, you can avoid paying postage by sending online gift cards. Just make sure you are paying through a secure site.
Make your holidays merry and bright with a plan, a budget and the resolve to stick to it. Come January, you can start the New Year with a clean slate instead of a stack of bills.
For more tips you can trust, visit www.bbb.org . To report a fraud or scam, call the BBB Hotline: (903) 581-8373.