On November 25th, thousands of Americans woke up at the crack of dawn to attempt to take advantage of the well-known “Black Friday Door Buster Sales”. For those of us who had to work, were lazy (read: love our beauty sleep), fear large crowds, or just didn’t want to get trampled in the mad dash for the 60’ TV on sale for $200, retailers often extend sales for the remainder of the holiday shopping season (but not on the good stuff; sorry, the early bird still gets the worm). Black Friday has always unofficially marked the beginning of the holiday shopping season followed by Cyber Monday just two days later. In recent years, some retailers have begun their holiday marketing and deals as early as October (I guess they forgot about Thanksgiving). Since many of us have large families or family members with expensive taste, we all know how easy it is to spend an arm and a leg during the holidays. Although it’s true, waking up for the “door buster” sales can save you a considerable amount of money on your holiday shopping tab it’s not the only way to save a lot of cash this holiday season. “How is that possible”? I’m glad you asked. Follow these tips and you surely will not have to file for bankruptcy after your holiday shopping:
1. Set a budget! – You probably guessed we were going to say this, didn’t you? As you know, we love budgets because they are effective in assisting us in avoiding overspending. Assess your disposable income (available money after expenses) and create a REALISTIC budget for your shopping. A budget provides a strict boundary for your spending and must be respected in order for it to be effective.
2. Make a list (and check it twice) – Create a detailed list of everyone you intend to buy a gift for this holiday season and assign a spending budget for each person. Tip: The total sum of the spending budgets for all persons on your list should NOT exceed the value of your overall budget. Save this list on your phone so that it’s accessible wherever you go shopping and keep track of the prices of your purchases to ensure you are sticking to the game plan.
3. Shop with cash and debit card, NEVER credit card – Leave that evil credit card at home this season. Shopping with cash and/or your debit card ensures that you will not spend money that you don’t have. Shopping with a credit card can lead to the temptation to purchase things you don’t need…like those four pairs of designer jeans you just had to have last year. And definitely stay away from credit cards endorsed by retailers – although they promote the “special savings” you can get with these cards, they tend to have high APR’s. The goal of holiday shopping isn’t to go into debt.
4. Get “smart” with your phone – Use price comparison apps, available in your mobile app store, to help you shop and find the lowest price for any item that you’re looking for. All you need to do is scan the barcode and the app does the work for you. This can help you save a lot of $$$ in the long run. (We recommend: ShopSavvy)
5. Shop the day AFTER Christmas – Following Christmas day, but prior to New Years day, is the best time to shop and find deals. Stores mark down their unsold inventory from the holiday shopping season which results in great deals for you. Yea, your family may be a little mad that their gifts are delayed, but your wallet/purse will love you for it!
Follow these simple tips and I guarantee you’ll have a little extra cash left over to splurge on yourself this year. Good luck, happy shopping, and Happy Holidays!
About the Author: Femi Faoye is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of D.R.E.A.M. He’s a staunch and passionate financial literacy education advocate.
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