The holiday doorbuster deals and sales are hard to ignore these days. If you’re still shopping for your loved ones, here are 6 key tips to keep your spending under control.

Have a budget in mind

Since this year is unique with COVID-19 restrictions and State guidelines, not everyone will have the same holiday experience that they normally do. If you know who you’ll be buying gifts for, give yourself an idea of how much you want to spend per person. Conversely, if you have specific gifts in mind for your loved ones, do some research on how much they will cost ahead of time. Doing so will make the following tip a lot easier.

Do some research

Big ticket items like the latest technology are likely to run you a pretty penny. Shop around and take note of what the major department stores are charging. This will help to inform your budget. You may also be able to price-match certain items in-store. Bed Bath & Beyond, for example, will price-match any item they sell that can be found cheaper at one of their major competitors. This can save you a few bucks and a trip to another store!

Be wary of shopping sprees

This may sound contradictory to tip number two, but it is still important to note. It can be enticing to have a one-stop-shop and get your entire holiday list out of the way in one store. Places like Walmart and Target make that possible, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most cost-effective. After you’ve solidified your budget and done your research, you may find that the best prices for all your desired goods are found at a ton of different stores. This may take more time, but your wallet will thank you later.

Charge responsibly

Forbes advisor Robin Saks Frankel tells us that the revolving consumer debt, made up mostly of credit cards, is around $1 trillion.[1] Many Americans fail to use responsible spending practices with credit cards, especially around the holidays. Your credit score, for example, is impacted pretty heavily by how much of your credit limit you use up. Maxing out your credit card(s) is a step towards doing lasting damage to your credit score.

Monitor your spending and try to keep your total credit utilization under 30% of your limit. One way to do so is to make multiple smaller payments on your bill throughout the month. This can keep the limit low and also help you chip away at the debt so you’re not intimidated by one larger amount at the end of the month.

Consider shipping time and cost

Like we said in tip number one, people are doing the holidays differently this year. If you’re sending gifts in the mail to loved ones, there are a few things you can think ahead about.

Are you doing all your shopping online? Shipping takes time and money, so that will need to be added to your budget. Many online stores have a gift wrap option so that you can order items and ship them directly to the recipient. This option may cost a little bit more, but the time and money it will save overall could be worth it.

Are you a last-minute shopper? You may not be able to rely as heavily on the super last-minute overnight rush shipping option. With so many people relying so much more on the postal service to send and receive packages this year, we suggest moving your gift-shipping timeline up a week or two.

Retail recovery

After all is said and done, you have to survive the holiday spending rush somehow. Once you’ve finished all your shopping and spending, take a minute to assess your financial situation once more: monthly budget, credit score, credit card debt, etc.

Which credit cards have the highest interest rates? Consider paying those down first if you have to prioritize. This can save you from paying more money in the long run. Create a plan to pay all your debts down and stick to it!

This time of year may open you up to a holiday bonus and/or tax return. These are great ways to pay down holiday debts without severely impacting your monthly budget.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2020/07/17/credit-card-debt-is-down-during-covid-19-heres-why/?sh=57f4267873a1

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