Monday, November 30, 2009

Smart Shopping

With Black Friday behind us and Cyber Monday in full swing today, consumers are doing what they do best – shopping.
As you are wooed by sales and discount offers over the next few weeks, keep in mind these fabulously frugal shopping tips when shopping this holiday season.
5 Holiday Shopping Tips to Keep Spending in Check
·       Don't shop 'til you drop. We all get busy this time of year and holiday shopping often gets saved until the last minute. This can mean one marathon day of shopping for all the gifts we need. Cramming your shopping into one rushed spree leads to overspending on items just to get the job done. Instead, commit to one or two hours of shopping each week over the course of several weeks. It will allow you to scout out deals and buy the gifts you really want and that really suit the receiver.

·       Make a list and check it twice. Just as you would make a grocery list, make a holiday gift list –and stick to it. Having a list will not only make your shopping trips more efficient but will keep you on task. At this time of year, we're all susceptible to getting sidetracked by alluring store displays, but we all know what that means –buying a bunch of items that we don't need.

·       Keep it local. The big box stores may lure you in with their sales fliers, but often the best places to find a deal are in your own backyard. You can talk down the price and get a real steal at flea markets and boutique shops, plus the purchases come with a better story. New York City’s Holiday Shops at Bryant Park and Union Square are great examples of places to buy unique, inexpensive gifts while supporting local artisans.

·      Use cash, not credit whenever possible. Swiping your credit card is just too easy. It's hard to keep track of money spent in the midst of your holiday shopping spree. To avoid going into credit card debt over the holidays, take out a set amount of cash for spending in advance of your trip to the mall, which will allow you to monitor what you're spending and stay within your budget. Of course for bigger purchases sometimes whipping out the plastic is necessary. If you have to use a card, make sure it's one that's allowing you to accumulate points or get cash back for purchases.

·       Remember, Christmas is the season of giving. Set one simple rule for yourself:  eye on the prize. No matter how tempting, remember that you are buying gifts for others at this time of year, not yourself.  For the month or two leading up to the holidays, refrain from any non-essential purchases for yourself. Then, come December 26, when all the sales kick in you can return the gifts you don’t like and snag some post-holiday deals. 

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