Savvy consumers can easily compare prices and come away with a bargain with just a few clicks of a mouse or of an app. Before you begin shopping this holiday season, keep in mind the following five wise consumer tips to help you stay on budget.
1. Make a budget. Before you purchase your first present, you should determine who you will be buying presents for and how much you plan to spend. Then, stick to your budgeted gift amount. Add in the items you need including wrapping paper, bows, decorations and your Christmas tree. The total for all these items will be your overall budgeted amount. Plan to spend no more than that amount no matter what.
2. Quality Versus Quantity. With the preponderance of dollar stores, you can easily fill up your shopping basket with Christmas delights, but there is one problem: the quality of the items you purchased may not measure up. Instead of buying because the item is inexpensive, consider the quality of the items purchased. You may pay more for better quality items, but these items last longer. Where appropriate, warranties and guarantees also are factors that should be considered.
3. Sales and such. Know that prices are subject to change and the worst change for you is a price that drops after you purchase an item. That is why it is important for you to be aware of pricing, especially for big ticket items. Well before you make your purchase, follow pricing trends carefully. Some items will reach their lowest prices on the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) while other items can fluctuate in price throughout the holiday season. Be mindful of items where demand outstrips supply as retailers may inflate prices.
4. Know what you are getting. Be certain that the items you purchase are, in fact, what you want. Toys rarely come with batteries, computer equipment may still require that peripherals be purchased separately, and warranties may cost extra if you need long term coverage. Your budget should cover the cost of the extras, otherwise you’ll need to rework your budget to avoid losing out.
5. Cash beats credit. Cash beats credit, right? Well, yes. However, a credit card can offer you protection that cash cannot on some purchases. For instance, if you buy something with a credit card and make a return, it is easier to complete that transaction whether you have a receipt or not. Moreover, if there is a dispute with a merchant, the credit card company can withhold payment until you are satisfied. Cash customers should be treated better, but often they are not.
Keep in mind that your Christmas spending habits can have a huge impact on your creditworthiness especially if you are late with your payments. Staying on budget can help you avoid trouble later on including taking an undesirable hit to your credit record.
See Also — 5 Christmas Shopping Thrift Tips
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