Staying within your budget is hard enough 10 months out of the year, but during the holiday season it gets even tougher. Here’s how to keep your holidays wallet-friendly.
Sale ≠ good price
Understand that just because an item is on sale doesn’t mean it’s a good price. Let’s say you want to buy a specific toy. The regular price of the toy in store A is $50 and the regular price in Store B is $40. Store A is having a 10% off sale, and store B isn’t offering any discount. If you buy it at Store A, you’ll still end up paying $45, or $5 more than Store B’s regular price, even though their advertisement is designed to make you think you’re getting a deal. Comparing prices will save you a bundle.
Stay away from impulse buys. All of those things on the ends of the aisles (known as end caps in retail terms) and all of the things on the racks in the checkout line are meant to catch your attention and get you to spend a little bit more. You really don’t have to buy that magazine so you can be the first of your friends to see the royal baby pictures. All of those $4 purchases add up quickly, and before you know it, you will have spent much more than you planned on things you really didn’t need.
Shop without the kids. Any parent knows that bringing the kids along costs more. They always want “just this one thing”. The problem with that is that one thing turns into another thing each time you go shopping. After a couple of trips, you’re out some serious money.
Cash is king
Leave your credit and debit cards at home. Choose what you can afford to spend, and bring only that. Once it’s gone, you’re done shopping. It’s very easy to overspend when you have credit cards. If you have to physically hand over the cash, you’ll be more careful about what you’re buying. Also, if you don’t have a Holiday Club account with your bank, now is a good time to start one for next year so you’ll have the cash on hand.
Make sure you eat before you go shopping. Lunch for two in a fast food place can easily eat away at your budget, and the food courts in the malls tend to charge a lot of money for bad food. Try to plan your shopping trip for the time between meals, so a grumbling stomach doesn’t get the best of you and your funds.
Do you find it difficult to stay within your budget during the holidays?