Recently the news has been buzzing that the Great Recession is over, and recovery is on the way. However, with 15.1 million Americans out of work and about 30% of US factory capacity remaining idle, it’s clear that the economy is going to impact many families this holiday season. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), two-thirds of American families are going to be adjusting their holiday shopping plans.
You might be tempted to pull out the credit cards and charge this year’s holiday gifts, dÃ©cor and travel, because the economy is getting better. It’s never a good idea to count on a windfall before it happens. Rather than spend money you don’t have, put the credit cards away and use cash or a debit card. According to the Annual Holiday Survey conducted by the non-profit group Consolidated Credit Counseling Services Inc. over 54 percent of respondents said they would spend less money this year due to the economy and feeling like they are carrying too much debt already.
Here are some tips to get the most out of your holiday shopping:
- Create a Holiday Budget – Don’t start your holiday shopping until you know how much you have to spend. NRF estimates that the average consumer is going to spend $682.74 on this year’s holiday-related shopping. Ideally, your holiday budget shouldn’t include adding more debt to your credit cards.
- Make a Holiday Shopping List ““Write down a list of everyone you want to give a holiday gift to this year, the type of gift, and the dollar amount you want to spend on each person. Make sure the amounts don’t exceed your overall holiday budget. If you budget doesn’t stretch far enough, consider getting group gifts or making a few homemade gifts. Make your list early enough to give you time to shop for holiday deals.
- Search for Holiday Deals ““ Black Friday and other sales events are right around the corner. Some sites, like Black-Friday.net, were created just to track that popular sales event. You can also visit bargain hunting sites like FatWallet.com and DealHunting.com, and search Twitter for coupons using CheepTweet.com and CouponTweet.com. If you’re shopping online, take into account the cost of shipping. Make sure you’re really getting a good deal.
- Leave the Credit Cards at Home ““ People spend more when paying with plastic instead of cash. The easiest way to avoid putting your holiday purchases on the credit cards is to leave them at home.
- Stick to Your Holiday Shopping List ““ When you’re at the store, buying the holiday gifts, resist the temptation to stray from your shopping list. Remember if you never intended to get it in the first place, then you’re not saving any money if you buy additional sales items.
If you have a popular gift that you absolutely have to have this holiday season, make sure to get it early. Retailers are expecting a soft sales season this year, and have cut back on their inventory to prevent too many markdowns at the end of the season. It’s very possible that once the item is gone from the shelves, it won’t be back till after the holidays.
About the Author: Kathryn Katz is a single mom, internet marketer and professional copywriter. Kathryn is a Certified Personal Finance Counselor and works for Consolidated Credit Counseling Services. The non-profit credit counseling agency offers the Holiday Survival Guide to help holiday shoppers.