The Thanksgiving holiday is over. Throughout the last week, you’ve been blasted by advertisements for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as texts from loved ones on what they want for the upcoming holidays. How should you respond?
You shouldn’t panic-buy everything on your list right away, and you certainly shouldn’t blindly buy something just because you finally found an item that’s in stock. The National Retail Federation forecasts an increase between 4.3 and 4.8% in holiday sales. Keep these four tips in mind as you approach the rest of your holiday shopping:
1. Do Your Research
Before making any purchases, take some time to work out a holiday budget of what you’re willing to spend for your friends or loved one. Take into account your monthly net income and expenses to see how much leftover money you have to work with for the holidays.
This is important because impulse spending can lead to overspending and entering debt to purchase holiday gifts. You don’t want to enter debt as it can lead to monthly interest and late payments on top of your unpaid debt.
2. Make a List, Check it Twice
After figuring out the amount of money you have to work with, figure out a solid plan on what you plan to buy before you go online or to the store. If you have the time, be like Santa and make a list of everything your friends and loved ones want.
After that list is complete, go online and compare prices from a few different outlets so that you have a ballpark estimate for each item. Getting an estimate price range can help if you’re searching for the item on any secondary markets if the item is out of stock! For example, in 1996 the demand for the Tickle Me Elmo skyrocketed so high that people were buying them at prices around $7,100!
With this process, you’re able to see what items on your list fit into the budget you figured out earlier. It will also help prevent you from getting to the store and buying things that weren’t in your plans.
3. Consider a Credit Card
Depending on your credit history, consider looking into 0% introductory APR credit cards as an option to help extend repaying some of your holiday expenses. These cards are designed for big purchases, where you are given a period of time where you won’t pay any interest on your credit card balance as long as you make your minimum payment. Depending on the card, the offer could last a year or more!
This gives you more time to pay off your holiday gifts over the course of a few months, rather than by your next billing cycle, without paying expensive credit card interest fees.
4. Shop Safe and Smart Online
Since a majority of shopping is done online these days, always be wary of where you’re shopping.
Always make sure to look at the URL in the address bar to make sure the URL has a lock symbol as well as https in the beginning compared to http. This ensures that you are making purchases on secure websites.
Identity thieves are known to take advantage of the vulnerabilities on an open network. Try to avoid making purchases over wifi networks that don’t require a password, since unencrypted data can be visible to any other computer in range.