The National Retail Federation expects the holiday shopping season to be a profitable one for stores, with overall holiday shopping projected to reach $602 billion (up 3.9 percent compared to last year). Although the holiday season is good for retailers, since they make a significant amount of their annual profit from the holiday shopping rush, it’s not always good for consumers. Many people go into debt during the holiday season because they buy extravagant gifts and spend money that they cannot afford. Many people feel pressure to show their love for their families and friends by buying holiday gifts, while others rack up credit card debt just traveling home for the holidays. How can you enjoy the holiday spirit without ending up in deeper debt?
Here are a few ideas for how families can save money on holiday shopping this season:
Set a Budget
According to a recent survey from the National Retail Federation, the average U.S. shopper’s holiday shopping budget is $737.95 – 2 percent less than last year. Does that number sound high to you, or low? Setting a budget is one of the best ways to stay out of holiday debt – even if you don’t totally stay on budget, just the simple act of setting a goal for your spending means that you’re likely to spend less than you would have if you never had a target budget in mind at all.
Look for Early Deals
The holiday shopping season is starting earlier each year. According to the National Retail Federation, 40% of consumers start doing their holiday shopping before Halloween – so stores have started introducing holiday shopping merchandise as early as September. This means that often, you don’t have to wait until Black Friday to get in on some excellent holiday shopping deals. According to this article on early holiday deals, Kmart has been running its holiday shopping ads since Sept. 9, and Toys R’ Us released its list of “hot holiday toys” on Sept. 18.
Compare Prices in the Store
Using smartphone apps like the Amazon Mobile App and others, it's easier than ever before to get the best price on merchandise (and check prices online and in other stores) before you buy.
Spread Out Your Shopping
Instead of buying all of your holiday gifts in one single shopping splurge, budget a certain amount for each month or each week of the holiday shopping season. This way you can treat your holiday shopping as part of your regular ongoing spending that can more easily be paid with cash, instead of a massive one-time unexpected expense that is more likely to end up getting put on your credit cards.
The holiday shopping season is full of temptations, but that doesn’t mean you’re doomed to a regretful January full of debt. By spreading out your spending, setting a budget, looking for deals and comparing prices as you shop, the holiday season can be a merrier one – for your wallet.