It’s not uncommon for shoppers to get a head start on purchasing gifts for the holidays, but shopping before the December rush is fast becoming the norm, according to American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC), a nonprofit organization.
“More people realize that waiting until December to start your their holiday shopping can result in extremely high credit card balances that are impossible to pay back,” says ACCC President and CEO Steve Trumble. “Spending small amounts on holiday gifts from each paycheck can prevent overspending and over-relying dependence on credit cards. It can also make the total amount spent on holiday shopping rather manageable.”
There are many ways shoppers can start saving on holiday spending:
1. Do Your Research — Shopping before Black Friday has its perks. You have time to do research before you hit the stores. Call around and go online to find the best deals. You should also try to consolidate your shopping trips to a few stores to cut down on transportation costs.
2. Set a Budget and Save — Know your budget, make it non-negotiable and then save enough to afford that budget. A financial calculator can help you determine how much you will need to save on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis to save a certain amount for holiday spending. That way, you can start putting money aside now for holiday expenses.
3. Debit Instead of Credit — Use debit instead of credit cards. A debit card automatically forces you to spend only what you have, and allows you to avoid paying interest. It also prevents you from creating an enormous bill that may take months to pay off.
4. Open a “Holiday” Account — Many banks have a “Christmas Club” account intended to help people save for the holidays. Consumers can start putting money into the account each month, and the bank only allows you to withdraw money from it on a certain date so you are not tempted to take out money prior to the holidays.
5. Make a List and Check It Twice — Plan a list of gifts ahead of time for people and buy them before the holiday rush. One way to do this is to carry your list with you. All too often shoppers will get distracted by flash sales and “bargains” and end up with a trunk full of items that were not even included on the shopping list. By simply carrying a list with you, whether it is hand-written or on a smartphone, shoppers can save themselves hundreds in unwanted and unnecessary items.