Minimize Credit Card Spending During the Holidays
The holiday shopping season is a much-anticipated time of year for both the retail industry and consumers. For the retail industry, the largest percentage of their sales are earned during the holidays by consumers who have failed to plan and are easily lured to make impulse purchases for shiny new gadgets. Consumers on the other hand make a dash for the mall, credit card in hand, in search of a thrill from the fancy decorations and Christmas music, the sale signs, and the crowds. At the end of the day, or shall I say in January after things have calmed down, consumers are weeping because of their huge credit card bills wondering where all the money went and retailers are laughing all the way to the bank or the board room. While, its not such a bad thing for the retail industry, how can we as consumers make sure that we are not weeping but celebrating along with the industry? It is simple. We can develop a plan and a budget, which includes shopping year round for gifts and doing some comparison-shopping.
Christmas comes the same time every year. We have approximately 12 months to develop a plan and to execute it if we desire to save money and keep our credit card balances low. Why wait until December 1 or Black Friday to begin our Christmas shopping? For the adults and even some of the children on our list we can shop for gifts year round. Why not begin in January or early February when the winter clearance begins for many retailers? Or stock up on the latest toys and gadgets at significant savings on the day after Christmas. To avoid the long lines the day after the holiday, shop online where the deals have proven to be just as good. Some merchants even offer free shipping. Be on the look out for online coupon codes and free shipping offers.
Your plan should also consist of making a list, which includes the names of all the family members, and friends that you need to purchase something for along with a gift or two that is representative of them and your relationship. Then you should develop a total budget using the highest price item of the two that you listed and make the conscious decision to adhere to that bottom line. After you’ve done this, prepare to do some comparison-shopping, which you can do from the comfort of your own home. The thing about comparison-shopping is that you must give your self enough time; this is not for procrastinators. Check the Internet sites of competing retailers to see who has the best price and check the weekly advertisements too. This way you know what you want and where to get it before you leave home, which will reduce the number of impulse purchases you make and reduce the temptation to pick up things along the way.
Don’t become trapped in credit card debt year after year during the holiday season. Make a decision to develop a plan and follow it. Decide early on who you want to purchase gifts for and select the ideal gift. Then develop a budget that you can adhere to that will cover the expense of all these gifts. Finally, allow yourself enough time to do some comparison-shopping. Watch for sales cycles and weekly advertisements from those same merchants. Then make up your mind to be done or at least 95% complete with your holiday shopping before December 1st. By having a plan and make a concerted effort to stick with it, you can ensure that you will be rejoicing at all the money you saved in January because you made the decision to stop letting retailers control your credit card spending.