Save money and avoid overspending this holiday season

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Last Christmas, COVID prevented many of us from properly celebrating the season with family and friends. We sent gifts, held more intimate gatherings, and played vacation movies to feel a semblance of normalcy. It’s no exaggeration to assume that many of us now have a repressed and overwhelming desire to whip up a Christmas that would make Buddy the Elf cry peppermint tears of joy.

But, in order to achieve Norman Rockwell perfection, we can put a lot of pressure on ourselves – and our finances. If we’re not careful spending can get out of hand faster than Santa Claus sprints around the world on Christmas Eve.

Splurging on traditions and traps that stoke feelings and gifts and parties that elicit smiles is an OK, if you can afford it. Sure, your spouse would really love a $ 1,000 watch, but is it really worth taking on debt?

“It’s easy to get carried away by the spirit of the season, but when it comes to shopping for gifts this year, put your emotions aside and let yourself be guided by reason,” recommends Steve Siebold, certified financial educator and author of “How Money Works.” This is when you need to start using logical thinking in the decision-making process. ”

There are plenty of ways to spend more conscientiously, save money, and avoid overspending this holiday season.

On the one hand, focus on the celebration, not on gifts and material possessions. Let your family and friends know that you’d rather enjoy their presence, especially this year, without the stress of giving away.

If giving is a must, create something homemade with the heart or treat loved ones like a lawn care or coupons for free car washes.

When shopping, be sure to research and compare prices to avoid misleading deals. Many online and physical stores are offering comparable prices this holiday season. If you’re in the store, be sure to take your smartphone with you and request the match, which often includes prices online. Retailers like Target and Best Buy also promise to match prices with previous purchases. If something you bought two weeks ago drops in price, bring your receipt and request an adjustment.

Use coupons whenever you can. You don’t have the time or the inclination to search for offers? If you shop online, let a browser extension and price comparison tool do the work for you. RetailMeNot’s Deal Finder and The Capital One Shopping browser extension will search for a better price while you shop and instantly apply coupons. You’ll also earn cash back or rewards that you can redeem for gift cards.

Also, be sure to download the smartphone apps from your favorite stores before you go. Over the past few years, retailers have added more and more incentives for shoppers to download their apps. While the best deals will likely be available to non-app users as well, it makes sense to have access to every deal.

Finally, if you haven’t already, start shopping as soon as possible. Shipping delays and empty store shelves could derail any shopping procrastinator’s last-ditch search mission.

In some ways, the shady supply chain issues we constantly hear about have helped. Stores kicked off Black Friday sales earlier than ever, which has helped the frugal among us find great deals and spread out spending.

The point is, we still have weeks to go before Christmas, so there may be a very real urge to keep buying, and therefore spending too much. To help you avoid debt and control your spending, Siebold offers these tips:

Plan ahead: Make a list and double check it. Before you go to the store, make a list of each person you need to buy for and allocate a certain amount of money for each of them. Don’t even spend a dollar. This is important because if you start spending $ 5 here and $ 10 there, it adds up quickly and you can easily get into debt.

Be honest: The last thing your friends and family want is to see you go into debt or go into more debt. There is no shame in telling people this year will be an off-peak holiday season for gift-giving. People will appreciate your honesty and attention to your finances.

Don’t get caught up in the moment: If your basket is overflowing, take a step back, regroup and make sure you can really afford anything. While there are some great deals to be had, don’t fall for marketing campaigns that make you feel like you’re getting a good deal when you really aren’t (i.e. buy- the today – pay it tomorrow). The key is to be mentally strong to know when it’s enough.

Do not remove the plastic: Don’t even think about using a credit card unless you’re 100% sure you can pay it off at the end of the month. The last thing one needs is to be hit by high interest rates and a blemish on their credit score. Ask yourself this critical thinking question: Would I rather have the short-term satisfaction of expensive material possessions, or the long-term results of financial freedom and abundance?

Learn from the past: Have you overspended in the past? Remember how this cost you financially? Remember how bad it felt when you opened your credit card statement and realized you couldn’t pay for everything? Review that pain and how miserable you felt before you started shopping this holiday season.


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