Tag: holiday shopping

 

5 Products to Avoid Wasting Money On During the Holidays

By Quinisha Jackson
December 19, 2019

Whenever the holidays roll around, even frugal shoppers can get sucked into the trap of spending money on things they don’t really need. 

Holiday sales are quite enticing and it’s only after the season is over that we look around and realize a lot of the things we purchased were a major waste of money.

So, before you go out and spend your hard-earned cash, we’ve got some tips to help you enjoy the holidays and keep your bank account healthy. Take a look at 5 products you should avoid wasting your money on this holiday season. 

1. Holiday Decorations

You’d have to be a major Scrooge to say no to all those light-up reindeer and snowflake ornaments, right?

Yet, while it’s tempting to grab all of the sparkly and fun decorations you come across, it’s also easy to overspend – especially if you shop after Black Friday and before New Year’s.  

Instead, try to use decorations from the previous year’s holiday season if you can. Unless you have lights that don’t work or other non-functional equipment, no one will notice the difference. 

If you use this tip for this year’s festivities, you’ll save money and then, when the holidays are over, you can stock up for Christmas next year as seasonal decorations will be deeply discounted.

2. Extended Warranties

Spending a little extra for insurance on the latest gadgets might seem like a good idea in theory. However, an extended warranty can sometimes be part of a slick sales tactic to add to your final bill. 

Sales team members are skilled at appealing to your worst fear that your new device could malfunction in the next few months. They will try to talk you into buying a warranty for added peace of mind. 

What they won’t tell you, however, is that if your device breaks after the warranty period is over, you’ll still have to pay for a replacement. They also don’t tell you that if you pay for items on your credit card, you might already get extended warranty protection through your card issuer. 

Credit card coverage can vary depending on what kind of card you have, so it’s best to check with your credit card provider to see what protection it may offer. This way you’ll be less likely to waste money on a warranty you don’t need. 

3. Unused Gifts

 As much as we all enjoy giving thoughtful, personalized gifts to our loved ones, there are times when we miss the mark. 

You might have picked out an adorable jacket for your nephew, only to realize he’s grown several sizes since the last time you saw him. Or, maybe you found a gorgeous pair of earrings for your sister, yet she rarely wears jewelry and would have preferred to get cash or a gift card. 

Unless you’ve selected a gift from someone’s personal wish list, it’s likely that you could end up buying something they’ll take back to the store – or toss in a corner and forget about altogether. 

To avoid spending time and money on a gift that won’t get much use, be sure to ask others what they’d like to receive for the holidays. If they seem unsure or ask for something outside of your budget, it’s fine to give them cash or a gift card along with a thoughtful holiday greeting card. 

While it might seem impersonal to substitute cash or gift cards for a physical gift, it’s just as thoughtful to give your friends and family the freedom to buy what they really like. 

And, here’s another pro tip: Save even more money by using the 4 Gift Rule with your family this Christmas.

4. Expensive Tools

Unless you’re a professional mechanic or home repair expert, you should think twice before shelling out hundreds of dollars on that shiny new power tool – for either you or as a gift. 

Yes: There will probably be a huge Black Friday sale that seems like the perfect opportunity to stock up on tools for that home project you’ve been planning all year. Yet, you’ll regret it when the holidays pass and those shiny tools are still sitting in your garage – untouched and in the boxes. 

Keep this in mind: It’s way cheaper to rent tools from Home Depot or another local equipment store. This option won’t cost nearly as much as buying tools brand-new, and you’ll also have a set amount of time to keep them, which will hopefully give you the motivation to get that project knocked out quickly. 

Another tip: Spending money unnecessarily on a sale item is still, well, spending money. If you don’t need something, keep the money in your savings account

5. Exercise Equipment

A fancy new treadmill or workout bench is another item that could end up collecting dust if daily exercise isn’t already part of your routine. 

While you might tell yourself that having the convenience of exercise equipment in your home will give you more motivation to work out, we all know how that usually ends up. 

So, rather than spending hard-earned money on fitness equipment that you may not use long-term, try signing up for a low-cost membership at your local gym or recreation center. See if you can commit to going a few times a week over the next several months and maybe even join with a friend to have an accountability buddy.

Pro tip: Gyms often offer super low membership deals during Black Friday week and then again right after the new year when folks are thinking about their New Year’s wellness resolutions.  

Save Your Money for the Long-term

While holiday sales might seem too good to pass up, remember that most items can be purchased at any time of the year. 

You work hard for your money, so try to be mindful of where you spend it this holiday season. Most importantly, try not to overspend. Even if FOMO sets in and you feel like you’re missing out on a deal, you’ll feel much better if that money is available in your bank account when you really need it. 

 

8 Shopping Hacks for the Best Holiday Deals

By Quinisha Jackson
December 9, 2019

Whether you’re filled with anticipation or dread when it comes to holiday shopping, it’s usually a necessary task this time of year. 

And, if you’re not careful about your spending, holiday shopping can wreak havoc on your budget or worse yet, lead to mounting debt

Luckily, we’ve got some shopping hacks to help you avoid putting a damper on your holiday mood and bank account. Here are 8 ways to get the best holiday deals this shopping season.

 1. Go Incognito 

Here’s a sneaky fact you may not be aware of: Prices you see online can vary based on your location or previous shopping history. 

For example, if you’re browsing in an area with an affluent zip code or one with less competition from a retailer, you may end up spending more for the same item than someone in another zip code.  

To get around this, do all of your online shopping in incognito mode. Your browser history won’t be tracked, and you can shop with confidence that you won’t be charged more based on your interests or location.

 2. Set Up Price Alerts

Whether you’re looking to snag the best deal on holiday flights or the latest electronics, you no longer have to stalk your favorite websites every day to see when prices drop.

Many online retailers give you the option to set up notifications so you can see the lowest prices for items you have your eye on.

Simply enter your email and wait for alerts with the latest pricing. Be sure to trust your gut and be on the lookout for fraud. If you notice prices are increasing weekly, it’s probably best to buy before the prices get out of your range. 

And, if something looks too good to be true, that may just be the case. So make sure you do your research before you plunk down your credit card.

 3. Save on Shipping

 Even when you find a great deal, holiday shipping costs can put a major dent in your budget. 

There are a few ways, however, to save money on shipping and still get all of your items in time. Planning ahead is always the best option, as you can choose free shipping or the lowest-cost without the risk of your items arriving too late.

However, if you miss the window for cheaper shipping, you can try having items sent to a physical retail location if possible. Simply purchase your items online and plan to pick them up from a nearby location at no extra charge. While you will have to take out time to make the trip, it can definitely be a budget-friendly alternative to paying an additional $10-$20 for the convenience of home delivery.

 4. Get Cashback on Purchases

If you’re not already using apps like Rakuten to get cashback on your purchases, now is the time to start. You can get one to 18% cashback on everything from clothes to accessories to hotel accommodations. 

There’s also a $10 cash bonus for new users, as well as bonuses for referring your family and friends. When you’re already in shopping mode for the holidays, this is a no-brainer to save a few extra bucks.

 5. Use Price Protection

While you could once count on your credit card to offer price protection if the cost of an item dropped right after making a purchase, this is a perk some credit card companies are beginning to do away with. 

Not to worry though. As with almost anything these days, if you’re in need of price protection, there’s an app for that. One to check out is Earny, which will take care of all the heavy lifting for you. Simply download the app, link the email address you use for purchases, and Earny will scan your receipts and file a claim on your behalf if the price of an item drops with a participating retailer.

 6. Look for Coupons

 When you think about coupons, you might imagine sitting at your kitchen table for hours, carefully scouring sales ads and physically clipping each coupon from every page. 

However, with deal sites like Groupon, couponing doesn’t have to be so time-consuming. 

With Groupon, you can find sweet deals from local retailers on dining, entertainment, spa services, and more. It’s a great way to save money and discover fun local attractions to check out!

 7. Don’t Buy Right Away

Like most holiday shoppers, you probably have a million things on your to-do list. Your instincts might be to fly through the online checkout process as quickly as possible so you can move onto your next task. 

Not so fast!

With some online retailers, you might be offered an additional discount if you close out your browser before completing a purchase. So, go ahead and try this. Then, wait a day or two to see whether you get an email with an incentive to finish checking out. This nifty little trick could land you some extra holiday savings.

 8. Ask for Price Matching

Whether you’re shopping online or at a store with a physical location, you can try asking the retailer if they’re willing to match the price of the same item from another store. 

Most retailers are happy to get your business from a competitor, so it never hurts to ask. 

Keep in mind that every retailer doesn’t have a price match policy, so don’t be discouraged if they turn down your request. It should also go without saying to only ask for a price match if you’ve really seen a lower price for the item elsewhere. So, be sure to have a screenshot or copy of the sales ad on hand when you make your request. 

Enjoy a No-Fee Holiday Shopping Season 

The holidays are meant for fun and spending time with loved ones. 

The last thing you need is the stress of overdraft or service fees. So, while you’re holiday shopping, lower your stress by choosing a bank account with no-hidden-fees

 

How to Plan Your Holiday Spending Budget Now

By Quinisha Jackson
October 31, 2019

If it feels like you blinked and the end of the year is here, I’m right there with you. 

With each passing year, it seems like the time between summer vacation and holiday planning gets shorter and shorter. You might think the easiest thing to do is just avoid looking at your calendar until the last minute. However, that strategy can be a recipe for disaster – not only for your stress levels, but for your bank account, too.

We all have busy lives, so you probably have a ton of things on your to-do list that feel more urgent than planning a holiday budget. Still, mapping it out now can ultimately save you a headache (and money) later on. 

Here are some ways to get a head start on putting together your budget this holiday season. 

Prepare for Your Usual Holiday Expenses

It’s ironic that we often feel blindsided around the holiday season since it happens at the same exact time every year. While there may be some minor differences from year to year, you usually have a general idea of who you’ll be buying gifts for, whether you’ll be traveling for the holidays, and other important details.

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to start taking steps to get organized for your expected holiday expenses over the next couple of months. If you usually invite friends and family over for dinner, estimate what it will cost to entertain your guests and start setting some money aside. If you’ll be flying to visit relatives, set up flight alert notifications and make plans to purchase your tickets before prices skyrocket.

Knowing how much you expect to spend can also help you figure out which holiday parties to attend. You might feel guilty about declining to attend some functions, but knowing what your budget can handle now can make it a little easier to say no.

Set Up a Holiday Savings Account 

I have a confession: I currently have six savings accounts. While this might seem excessive, there’s a method to the madness. I know how hard it is for me to mentally separate money for specific purposes, so I save myself the trouble by keeping it spread across different accounts.

If you find yourself with the same dilemma, now is the time to set up a savings account just for holiday spending. You won’t have to worry about accidentally spending money on your everyday purchases and you can physically see how much you have to spend once you start your shopping.

To make things even easier, set up automatic transfers to your holiday savings account. This way, you can set aside the money you need without even thinking about it.  

Reduce Some of Your Spending 

Before you dismiss this advice completely, I’m not telling you to be the poster child for frugality. However, if you want to add some extra cushion to your holiday budget, it might be worth cutting back on a few expenses for the next month or so. 

For example, if you go out to eat several times a month, try going out two to three times until the holidays. You can also have movie nights and coffee at home or consider pausing some of your recurring monthly subscriptions for the next couple of months. Every little bit helps, and if you know the semi-extreme frugality is on a short-term basis, it might not be as painful. 

Stick to Cash or Gift Cards

Are you planning to use a credit card to cover most of your holiday shopping? If so, you might want to think twice. A 2018 survey found that one in four shoppers were still paying off credit card purchases made during the previous holiday season, and 73 percent had plans to use credit cards for the upcoming holidays.  

As tempting as it can be to swipe that piece of plastic and worry about how you’ll pay it back later, you don’t want to spend the next year chipping away at debt for gifts you bought on one holiday. It’s also easier to overspend and buy things you really don’t need all in the name of the “holiday spirit.”

 So, avoid the temptation to spend excessively and make plans to stick to a cash-only system. Once you have the money saved up, withdraw the cash and take it with you if you plan to go out shopping. If most of your purchases will be made online, consider using a prepaid gift card. It’s an easy and painless way to get all of your shopping done, without spending more than you can afford to pay off later. 

Earn Some Extra Cash

The holiday season is busy for most companies, which means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to add a few extra bucks to your holiday budget if you need to. To make things simple, start off with your day job. It’s common for employers to offer overtime around the holidays, so let your boss know you’re interested in picking up some extra hours. 

If your job doesn’t have overtime available, look into ways you can make extra money after hours or over the weekend. Some options to consider include tutoring, babysitting or pet sitting. You can even taking a seasonal job. If you manage to snag a gig in retail, you might even get some nice discounts for your holiday shopping!  

Keep Track of Your Budget

All of your careful planning will go out the window if you make a budget now and neglect to actually use it once you start your holiday spending. Instead, take note of what you’re spending so you know whether you’re on track or on the verge of going over budget. 

I’m not telling you to whip out your calculator while you’re at the store and track every penny. Yet, it’s helpful to check in on your budget at least once a week during the holiday season to get an idea of where you’re at and if you need to adjust.

Make This a Happy (and Debt-Free) Holiday Season 

Most of us manage our money pretty well throughout the year, only to throw caution to the wind during the holidays. You’ve probably worked really hard to save and stick to a budget, and it’s okay to use those same strategies during the holiday season. 

With a little planning, it’s totally possible to get special gifts for your loved ones and still stay on track with the rest of your financial goals. 

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