The famous Black Friday is fast approaching and people are polishing their credit cards and asking for credit limit increases to make sure they are well prepared. But let’s be realistic. Just because you have $2,000 in available funds on your credit card doesn’t mean you need to spend it all.
You need to have a game plan before you start the midnight shopping madness. Here are some pointers to help make your shopping successful.
Develop your plan
Make a list of people you want to buy gifts for and allocate a certain amount for each. Set your budget for the amount you can realistically afford.
Keep your list with you at all times and use it like your check register. Write down the expenses as you go. If you go over on one person, you will need to trim off some spending from another.
Remember, just because it is in your budget doesn’t mean you have to spend the entire amount.
Check for deals in advance
Research your gifts online. There are several websites that will help you find secret deals for your holiday shopping. For example, you can visit www.black-friday.net for advance notice of what will be on sale the day after Thanksgiving.
Location, location, location
Limit the number of stores you visit. This will not only help you resist temptation but also will help relieve stress. You will have fewer lines to stand in and fewer shopping bags to carry.
What’s in your wallet?
Don’t carry a wallet full of plastic cards when you shop. This will tempt you to spend on things that were not on your list or to spend more than you budgeted for.
The only card you need to carry is your debit card.
Some people are concerned that using a debit card is not as safe as a credit card. This is not a good excuse. When checking out at the register, you will be given the choice of debit or credit. Select credit, even though it is your debit card, and you will be protected from unauthorized transactions.
Not using your credit card for shopping also will mean you won’t increase your debt, which will mean less hassle when the bills come in.
Retailers like to lure you in with great deals, hoping that other items fall into your buggy as you walk the aisles. Don’t ruin the holidays by taking on debt for gifts that people won’t remember in a few years.
Stay focused. Avoid distractions. Get in, get what you want, and get out – without paying full price.
Happy holiday shopping.
Jennifer Panther is a certified financial counselor. Her column, On Balance, runs once a month in The Herald.