How to Shop Responsibly This Holiday Season

We all know that holiday shopping is some of the most fun, but potentially most financially damaging time of the year. Are you prepared for everything the holiday shopping season brings? Here are four major tips to help you stay smart with your money this holiday season.

Set a Holiday Budget and Stick to It

Protecting your money includes protecting it from yourself!

Before you even start holiday shopping, you should set a spending limit based on what you can afford. List out your savings, income, and any credit you can use to spend on gifts. Then make some (hard) decisions about how much you can actually spend on holiday gift giving.

And if you’re not ready to get that serious—try setting up spending limits for each gift. While you won’t be able to keep track of how much you’re spending in total, you can guilt trip yourself into not spending more than your limits.

Save on Holiday Shopping When You Search For The Best Deals

We love a good deal as much as the next, but the best deals are always worth searching for.

Don’t get overwhelmed, don’t let the frenzy of the holiday season get to your wallet. Take your time, search for deals to compare to be sure you are getting the best prices on the items you need.

Avoid In-Store Credit Card Offers

Stay. Away. From. In-Store. Credit. Card. Offers. The discounts could help you save money now, but there’s a bunch of potential consequences you might not be prepared for when you’re trying to get that 30% off.

In-store cards typically have higher interest rates than other types of credit cards and they have lower spending limits and a lot of fees. When you open up a new credit account, like an in-store credit card, a few things could happen to your credit score:

  • A hard credit inquiry may be generated, which negatively impact your credit score up to 2 years
  • Your age of credit reduces, which considers how long you’ve had credit and how old your accounts are
  • You run the risk of adding a new credit account, which may include extra fees and due dates that weren’t there before, which could adversely impact your payment history if you don’t stay up-to-date.

Bottom line: If you charge purchases to a credit card, your best option is to shop with one credit card that you use for all purchases.

Get Creative This Holiday Season!

Remember, the holiday season is all about showing others you care. While expensive gifts are always a nice gesture, consider inexpensive alternatives to traditional gift-giving. Ever consider a polyanna or white elephant for your family or coworkers? Or instead of giving a gift, you spend some time doing something they love (ie. take them to a football game or the movie they really wanted to see).

Consider cooking their favorite meal, baking their favorite treat, or spend a day volunteering for their favorite cause. You’ll give them something thoughtful, without overspending.

While frugal, these gift ideas may be more meaningful, and worth more than the latest new smartwatch.

Whether getting creative with frugal gifts is your style or not, always make sure you’re keeping yourself in check with your holiday spending. January credit card bills come sooner than later, so follow these tips, and you’ll be the master of smart holiday shopping.