By the end of the day on Black Friday, shoppers spent $5.27 billion online, a 17 percent increase in spending from last year. Chances are, you still have a few more gifts to pick up between now and December 25, and with all of the available deals and steals, it’s sometimes hard to keep your credit card in your pocket. So how do you protect yourself from accruing debt while taking advantage of exciting holiday discounts?
Read our tips below to see how you can be a smart shopper during the holidays.
Make a cash budget.
After looking over your monthly income and expenses, determine an amount of money that you and your family are comfortable with spending on holiday purchases. While you shop, only carry this amount in cash. It’s much easier to keep track of spending when you can see, and feel, your money being spent!
Alicia Whalen, Teller Supervisor from Mt. Pleasant, says, “Don’t buy anything you don’t already have the cash for. Take out cash just for Christmas purchases and when all of that is gone, then you know you don’t have any more to spend.”
If you must use a credit card, set a limit that you are confident in your ability to pay off by your credit payment due date.
While running out to the store and buying everything with cash is an option for some, many of us just simply don’t have the time, or the energy. By making purchases online, you’ll save money on gas and you can shop around more efficiently to make sure you’re getting what you need at the lowest price possible.
“Go online and make sure you’re getting the best deals. Realize that there’s a good chance you could find what you’re looking for at a lower cost or on another site with free shipping. It definitely pays off in the end because you don’t want to be the one that spends $50 when you could have only spent $35,” said Whalen.
As you fill up your virtual shopping cart, know how much money you have coming in and going out by checking your account balances online, or on the Two Rivers Bank & Trust Mobile Money app in iTunes or Google Play. It’s also wise to use your debit card instead of your credit card to ensure that you always have enough money for your purchases.
Know what you’re going to buy.
Have a plan and go into a store knowing exactly what items you intend on purchasing and stick to it! Impulse buys will leave your wallet drained, and you’ll have excess stuff that you probably didn’t need in the first place.
Set aside money year-round.
Two Rivers Bank & Trust has a Christmas Club, which is essentially a savings account that allows you to add money on a monthly or weekly basis to set aside funds for the holidays. Then, at the end of October, your Christmas Club funds are transferred into your personal checking account so you can use that money over the next two months on gifts.
Whalen thinks the Two Rivers Bank & Trust Christmas Club is a great option for families that always feel tighter with their finances during the holidays. “It alleviates the stress of having the holidays approach and having that feeling of, ‘How am I going to pay for Christmas?’ and instead, you have the money and don’t have to worry about it.”
Be mindful of the bargains.
Remember that some retailers price their products higher in order to create the perception of a bargain. Be mindful of your purchases and determine whether or not the “bargain” is really a good value. In addition, be sure to assign a level of importance to all of your purchases since you are working with a specified amount of money.
Get rewarded with every purchase!
With TR Cash Back Checking, earn Cash Back rewards* just for using your debit card! There are no minimum balances or monthly fees. Best of all, you can use your online banking app to keep track of your spending as easily as you would with cash! Click here to open your account now!
*Earn $.10 for each POS (Point of Sale) debit card transaction in excess of $10. Qualifications: to receive cash back you must receive electronic statements.