Holiday Shopping: How to Shop Without Breaking Your Budget

David K. DonovanThe biggest holiday shopping season of the year is in progress. As much as we would like to provide our family and friends with every gift their heart desires, it is important to keep our financial goals in mind.

Staying within budget does not necessarily mean that you must limit the amount of gifts you buy. It simply means your financial goals must remain at the top of the shopping list. The following suggestions are tips to assist holiday shoppers with staying on track.

What To Do Before You Begin Shopping

Know Your Budget

The first thing budget-conscious shoppers must do is create a budget. By doing so, you will be able to keep a log of what you are spending.

Comparison Shop

Do a bit of investigating in stores and online to locate better deals. Most stores offer discounts specifically for online shoppers, and they normally make deals more enticing by with no-hassle returns and free shipping.

Make a List

Make a comprehensive list of how much money you want to spend, what gifts you are purchasing, and who you are purchasing gifts for.

What To Do While You Are Shopping

Debit or Credit?

Definitely use a debit card instead of credit cards. Debit cards automatically prompt you to spend only what you have, and help you avoid paying interest.

Say No To Department Store Credit Cards

Some retailers will offer a 10 or 15 percent savings on your entire purchase if you open a credit card on the spot. However, shoppers must consistently be aware of their credit card balance and be sure to pay it off in full. If not, you might be stuck with an annual percentage rate of nearly 20 percent.

Say Yes To Gift Cards

What’s better than a gift? A prepaid gift card. Prepaid gift cards work similar to debit cards and the cardholder has the opportunity to purchase exactly what they want.

Read Your Receipts Carefully

We have all been given a gift we wish we could return. Some of your family members and friends might feel the same way and that’s okay. Just be sure the receipt includes the real cost of the item. Some stores provide gift receipts, which hide the cost of the gift. You might think hiding the value of your gift is a good idea but stores will often disregard the purchase value and instead offer store credit or a reduced price on returns.