Dear Deborah

0 comments Posted on October 31, 2012

Dear Deborah,

I am not looking forward to holiday shopping this year. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas or shopping. The problem is that I tend to overspend on gifts, and then I’m stuck with credit card bills I can’t really afford.  What are some ways that I can avoid impulse buying and shop smart this year?

You’re not alone. In a recent nationwide Personal Shopper survey, 48% of people surveyed said they were not anticipating holiday shopping.

Here are some tips for shopping without big regrets later. Purchasing gifts can still be an enjoyable experience when there’s a plan.

1. Examine your overall budget. How much cash is available?
Decide how much you will spend on gifts. Take that amount of money from your bank account and place it in your Christmas spending envelope. Or, if you prefer to use your debit card, stick to your budget and save the receipts. Do not use a single credit card.

2. Make a gift plan. Who is on your gift-giving list?
Decide on a dollar amount for each person and write it down. What is the number of gifts you’ll buy for each of your children? Parents can aim to get presents children will use and appreciate.

Consider adding one or more charity gifts into the mix. Include family members in the decision-making or when delivering the gifts. This is a great way to think of others outside of the immediate circle of family and friends.

3. Say “no” to store cards.
Retailers use the holiday shopping season to solicit customers to sign up for a store card. Shoppers think they’re getting a good deal by saving 10% on purchases. But store cards come with higher interest rates than standard cards, often 21% and higher. When store cards are maxed out, consumers find that this affects their credit rating negatively.

4. Shop early. Avoid the stress of last-minute shopping.
You have more time to compare prices and make wiser spending decisions. You’re less likely to buy on a whim. Give yourself a more peaceful shopping experience.

Copyright 2012 Deborah Nayrocker. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint required.

Deborah Nayrocker is the author of The Art of Debt-Free Living and Living a Balanced Financial Life. She is an award-winning writer and columnist. Her website is www.ArtofDebt-FreeLiving.com.

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