Many people associate the holidays with extravagant gifts, but holiday overspending leads to months or even years of undue debt burden. Not only that, maxing out all of your credit cards just postpones the crunch and makes it so that you have no financial leeway if an emergency arises. How can you keep costs down without looking cheap? Read these holiday shopping tips to learn how to save money buying gifts:
Be Smart on Black Friday
Thanks to advertising and media hype, people expect things to become much cheaper on Black Friday. In reality, only some items get deep discounts. Others stay the same, and as a WalletHub survey of prices during last year's buying season noted, some prices actually skyrocket on this day! It's essential to know the normal prices of the things you're thinking of buying so that you can tell how much, if any, of a discount has really been offered. This will make it easier to decide what to buy on Black Friday.
Shop Even Later than Black Friday – Possibly Much Later
For items where the specifics aren't very important, such as non-designer clothing, the best time to buy is on Christmas Eve. Bricks-and-mortar stores get very desperate to unload stock that hasn't sold before the big day. Then, the selection in stores is much more meager and the shelves tend to look like a cyclone hit them, but the discounts on what's left can easily reach or even top 50 percent. That's great for picking up gift items that don't rely on specific brands or colors to be hits.
Always Check the Internet
According to WalletHub, 17.2 percent of items will be cheaper on Amazon on Black Friday than they are in bricks-and-mortar stores. Don't worry if you realize that you forgot to pre-check an item when you're reminded of it by a store display; Amazon has a handy app that makes it easy to check their stock from your cell phone.
Shop for Yourself, Too
Most people think of holiday shopping as a strictly gift-buying activity. However, it's a great time to save money on things you need but are unlikely to receive as presents. Pay extra attention to gadgets that are considered distasteful for gift-giving, such as vacuum cleaners, bathroom scales, and similar things. As long as you would have gotten them for yourself anyway, doing it during this season is a great way to save money.
Set a Budget
You don't want to have a post-holiday hangover to be caused by a huge credit card bill. Set a strict budget before you step foot in a store or log onto a shopping site. Break it down by each gift recipient so it's easy to keep track of spending. USA Today suggests limiting total holiday spending to 1.5 percent of annual income. By using the tips regarding sales, you'll be able to find good gifts despite doing your holiday shopping on a budget, and your finances will thank you, too.
Use the Best Possible Credit Card
Credit card issuers offer all sorts of deals to try to get you to use their cards, but in the long run, nothing beats low interest. Your St. Mary's card has the lowest interest rate of all during this time of year, and it should be your first choice for all of your holiday shopping. Combined with a good holiday budget, its low interest will ensure that your cheer will not be diluted by big bills.