Our last blog on this topic was so popular, we're back with another batch of ideas to keep your spending under control even in the midst of holiday shopping frenzy.
Don't skimp on paying your regular bills.
Rent, utilities, car payments, credit card bills and the like should be paid before you start spending on the holidays. Missing these payments will do you more harm — with interest charges, delinquent fees, bad credit rating — than Great-Aunt Ethel not getting that fitness watch she's been hinting for.
If this advice came a little too late and you're already in a bind, Integrity has a fantastic solution for you: the PayActiv program which lets you receive your pay as soon as you earn it, instead of waiting until payday. With the app on your phone, you can direct pay bills and Uber rides, use budgeting/financial planning tools, get prescription discounts and more. (You still receive a check on payday, minus any early payments you already took out.) Learn how to sign up here.
Right now stores are advertising great deals and limited time sales. Fear of Missing Out makes us run to grab these items before they're gone. Yet, marketing analyses show that these sales are not much better than at any other time of year. And there will always be another sale. Slow down and ask yourself whether this item is really a must-have.
Shopping in store? Beware these tricks.
Retailers are very good at getting you to spend more money than you planned on. You've probably experienced some or all of these:
Shopping online? Keep an eye on shipping charges.
Shipping costs can clean out your holiday money a lot faster than you planned on. Even when free shipping is included, those costs may have been built into the retail price. Do a bit of online research and compare the prices of that same item with and without "free" shipping.
Take advantage of store price matching promises.
Pretty much every large retailer says that if you find a lower price on an item elsewhere, they'll match or beat it. So before you take that item to the cashier, whip out your phone and check online for its price at other stores.
With these budget-wise strategies at your command, you're ready to shop the holidays and still be in great financial shape after the New Year!