Guest Author - Vannie Ryanes
Have you started your holiday shopping? If you are just now starting to think about gift buying and the strain it puts on your family budget, decide right now to become a smart shopper and stay within your budget. One of the best things you can do is not to wait for big sales. Many stores are suffering from sluggish sales and have already made deep cuts. My advice is to start your serious holiday shopping after immediately after Thanksgiving.
Become a careful and frugal shopper by keeping these things in mind:
Shop smart. One of the first things to do, is to talk to your family about holiday gifts and over-spending. Some planning before hand will help you to reign in spending. Before you buy anything, determine the amount you want to spend. Then work within your budget for everything you want to buy to complete your holiday shopping.
Comparison Shop. Have a sense of the cost of the items you want to buy by comparison shopping first. There is no better place to do this than the Internet. Most stores have online shopping. Go online and check out the prices before you step in the store. Surf the net for ideas for gifts if you are stumped. Look for coupons. Use newspaper and store coupons for sales and deals. Make a list of the items you plan to buy and what you want to spend. Then stick to the list, do not change the amount you want to spend or what you want to buy when you are shopping unless it is absolutely necessary.
Online purchases. If you are going to make online purchases, make sure you know what the entire deal is. Do you have to purchase a certain dollar amount to get free shipping? Is free shipping available, if not, how much will it add to your purchase, does that cancel out your reason for buying online in the first place? Also remember to check out shipping dates and order deadlines. If you see a special code for a discount use it.
Credit Use. Avoid using your credit card if you can. That's a hard one, however, you will be happier if you avoid running up debt. If you must use your credit, for instance you are making online purchases, it is safer to use a credit card than your debit card. When using your credit card, donít purchase beyond your immediate ability to pay off what you purchase. You don't want to still be paying off this year's gift purchases next year. If there is a layaway plan, do take advantage of it.
Gift cards. They can be found everywhere. Gift cards are a great way of staying within your budget, because you avoid the temptation of buying something more expensive that you stumble upon while shopping. If you decide to buy gift cards however, make sure you understand their terms. Some have expiration dates; others deduct percentages after periods of time that the card is not used. If you do give a gift card, you can still make a pretty package by putting the card in a useful or fun item. If you belong to one of the many survey groups that give goods for a certain number of points, check to see if you can cash your points in for gift cards.