Shop Smart This Holiday Season

It’s easy to get caught up in holiday spending and go overboard.  But if you budget ahead of time, look for ways to save, and stick to the plan, you can come out ahead of the game and celebrate in style this holiday season. Where do you start?

1. Make a Budget
List the people you need to buy for on a spreadsheet and keep track of the gifts you purchase as you go.  Know in advance how much you have to spend overall and on each person. Then, go through your monthly household budget and cut down on anything that’s unnecessary. Can you give up eating out for a month or two? What about going without getting your hair done?  Can you curb your daily trip to your favorite coffee shop? It all adds up, and it may be just enough to make the numbers work for you instead of against you.

2. Make Your Gifts
If you have Pinterest…you’ve got great ideas at your fingertips. Do you have any artistic abilities, like painting, drawing or knitting? Put those skills to use. If handmade gifts aren’t your thing, consider making your own greeting cards. Plus, your card recipients will feel extra special after receiving such a thoughtful item in the mail or at a holiday gathering. Or, skip the traditional cards and send an eCard.

3. Strategically Plan Your Shopping
Plan when it comes to both everyday shopping and shopping for holiday gifts. Consolidate your shopping to a day or two during the week and shop at a cluster of stores, if possible. That reduces both mileage, which saves gas, and time (and possibly your sanity).

4. Redeem Reward Points from Credit Cards
Do you have points waiting to be redeemed from credit cards or unused gift cards in your wallet? You can redeem most points for cash back or other gift cards than can be used for loved ones. Next year, save up your credit card rewards until the holidays so you’ll already have money for your holiday shopping.

5. Look for Coupons and Discounts
Search for coupons and deals on websites like RetailMeNot. Browse for discounted gifts on deal sites like Groupon or Scout Mob. Make sure you’re armed with a list of gifts you want to buy first. This savings strategy can backfire if you buy things just because they’re on sale, so use discipline to avoid overspending. Also, ask for price matches at stores.

Take advantage of relationship discounts from your favorite retailers and sign up for their rewards programs. Don’t forget about the great deals on merchandise and food at warehouse stores, like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s.  Why not save money on entertaining as well?

6. Shop Online
Okay, so you missed out on some of the Black Friday and CyberMonday deals you wanted. But you can often get some of the best online deals shopping in December as retailers compete for your holiday dollars.

Online prices are often cheaper—and some online retailers offer free shipping and don’t charge sales tax. Shopping on a site like Amazon can save time and help you avoid the holiday rush around department stores and malls. And even traditionally brick-and-mortar businesses, like Target and Walmart, offer exclusive online deals that you can’t get in the store.

7. Use Credit Wisely
If you must break out the plastic for that special gift or unbelievable deal, remember that your Tower Mastercard® has a money-saving low rate, a 25-day grace period, and 1% cash back rebates for Gold Card holders. Resist the urge to put last-minute purchases on store cards with high interest rates, which may catch up with you when the bills arrive in January.

If you follow some or all of the tips above, you’ll be setting yourself up for smart shopping this holiday season and a financially happier start to the new year.  Good luck!

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Resources: GenYPlanning.com