holiday

Holiday Shopping Survival Guide: 10 Tips to Keep the Holiday Fun and Avoid Extra Holiday Debt

The holidays are here! Some people plan and shop for the upcoming festivities throughout the year, while others prefer to shop last minute. Whatever your style, it’s likely you’ll utilize online or mobile shopping to get at least some of the job done. With benefits like saving on gas, childcare and the ability to shop literally day or night, more and more people are taking advantage of this growing trend. However, studies show that people who do both online and in-person shopping spend the most. So, what is the best strategy to survive holiday shopping while avoiding more debt?

Here are 10 quick tips:

  1. Recognize your holiday stressors and spending triggers. Set a spending limit. Make a holiday shopping budget and stick to it. Check out this 5 step seasonal spending guide for ideas.
  2. Online shopping is a great way to save on gas but beware of rip-off retailers, faulty merchandise, and ID theft before shopping at an unfamiliar retailer site. Look them up at the Better Business Bureau.
  3. Defy the temptation of buying a new Christmas tree or new decorations.
  4. Look out for sales and discounts throughout the year like Black Friday.
  5. Take advantage of the Free Shipping Day on Friday December 14, 2018. Free Shipping Day is an annual one-day event held mid-December. On this promotional holiday, consumers get to shop from large and small online merchants that are offering free shipping with a guarantee of delivery by Christmas Eve. For more information and a list of participating merchants, click here.
  6. Take into account the expense of your items and consider a homemade gift, shopping at consignment shops or garage sales and refurbishing an item to make it new.
  7. Save on wrappings and trimmings by buying bulk amounts of wrapping paper at craft fairs or at church holiday bazaar events.
  8. Department store credit cards can be quite enticing this time of year, but no matter how tempting that 10% savings may sound, carrying a balance for months easily erases that savings with interest charges. Sometimes even carrying the balance for one month erases the 10% savings. You are much better off paying full price for the items and staying out of debt. The same is true of 0% interest loans offered at many stores around holiday time. All it takes is a late or missed payment and that 0% interest is no longer a benefit to you as that interest rate can increase to 29%.
  9. There’s no better time of year than the holidays to teach our kids about budgeting. One of the simplest ways to teach kids about budgeting and saving is to use the “spend, save, share” model. For example, 40 percent might be for spending, 50 percent for saving and 10 percent to give to help people or causes your child cares about. When your child receives holiday gift money, help them divide it between three jars—and spend time talking about the importance of each. As the savings jar fills up, you can take your child to your local branch to deposit it into a Savings Account.
  10. To help track your expenses, use a cell phone app or a Money Management calendar. For more information, click here.

Follow the 10-step survival guide this holiday season for a fun, stress-free holiday season. For additional tips and financial planning resources, contact your Family and Consumer Sciences educator, Jenny A. Rodriguez, at jennyarodriguez@ufl.edu.