The holidays are usually the happiest time of the year. However, as jolly as the holidays can be, they can also be stressful. Why is that? Well, the holidays are notorious for having shoppers overspend on lavish gifts, and then having them suffer of buyer’s remorse once Christmas is over.
So, if you’re someone who just saved enough money from working a first job, or if you’re a college student working as a paid intern, or just someone who wants to save money during the holidays, then listen up! While it can be tempting to go crazy at around Christmastime, that doesn’t mean that you should blow your budget for the sake of impressing someone for only one day of the year.
In this article, we’ll present you with 7 of the most common mistakes that many shoppers make when shopping for the holidays, and what you can do to avoid overspending and or buying the wrong things.
1. Having No Plan
Before you start shopping for gifts, you must stop and think about what you’re going to find for each person on your list, and how you’re going to go about getting their gifts. Without a plan, you’ll risk buying something on impulse, and regretting it later. Therefore, have a plan in place to help you stay organized, efficient, and within a set budget.
In other words, your simple plan should have the following:
- A list of who you’re shopping for
- How much you want to spend on each person
- How much you want to spend for the whole shopping trip
- Some ideas of what you may want to get for each person
- What dates to shop on to prevent last-minute shopping (We’ll discuss last-minute shopping later in this article.)
2. Going Over Budget
As you create a holiday shopping plan, have a budget in place as well. Whether your budget is $50, $100, or more or less than those, is up to you. However, if you can’t afford expensive things, then don’t go all out if you’re not comfortable doing so. Plus, if you’re planning a holiday party, make sure to have a budget, and talk about it with whoever else is involved.
To do this, create a list of which things you want to buy, and the amount you can afford to spend on such gifts. Once you add up all your projected costs, along with the estimated cost for gifts, you'll then have a holiday spending budget. And, once you’ve used up all of your holiday money, then stop spending.
3. Using Credit
Nowadays, people would turn to credit cards to spend money that they don’t have. Once they receive a bill later, that’s when they’ll most likely regret their credit card purchase. The truth is, when you decide put everything on the credit card, you’ll end up paying for your Christmas gifts for several months—or even years.
To avoid this mistake, consider one of two options:
- Cash is still a payment method that’s accepted in stores. There’s nothing wrong with paying with cash, since you’ll know for sure that you can buy now, and NOT have to pay later. OR,
- Debit cards can be used online. Again, buy now, don’t pay later because you’ve already paid for it.
By planning your payment methods carefully, you’ll find that there’s no need for a credit card to do your Christmas shopping.
4. Only In-Store Shopping
“Nowadays, people will shop either online or in-store,” says Terry Jordan, a business writer at Do my essay. “However, the traditional method – shopping in stores – is almost the thing of the past, as more technological advances rise, and more and more stores are catering to customers online. Plus, while brick and mortar businesses are limited by the hours that they’re open, online stores are available 24/7. And, when it comes to deals, you’ll get them in both shopping methods, even though there are deals and steals online that you won’t find in stores.”
5. Ignoring Cash Back Sites
Nowadays, you’ll see cash back sites that promise to help you save money on your next shopping trip at participating retailers. Many of these sites and apps like Ebates and Ibotta ensure that you save tons of money, and even pay you (in a check or through Paypal) for shopping online. You heard right! They pay you to go shopping! It’s free money!
So, check out the cash back sites, download them, and see where you can both save money and earn money back. Speaking of saving money…
6. No Coupons?!
Don’t ever forget the coupons!
Some shoppers make the mistake of waiting for the weekly newspaper to receive their coupons. Or, they’ll overlook coupons, saying that couponing is nothing more than a time-consuming hobby.
But the truth is, times have changed, with coupons now available in both print and digital. In fact, shoppers have the option of either printing out coupons from online, or taking their smartphones to the store for the cashier to scan the barcode from their digital coupon.
Plus, sites like Ebates offer coupon codes that you can use towards many participating retailers.
Finally, sign up for store newsletters. Email newsletters will send you coupons every once in a while; so, be sure to take advantage of those when doing your Christmas shopping.
7. Last-Minute Shopping
Finally, the last thing that you would want to do this holiday season is to hold off on your Christmas shopping until the last couple of days. Chances are, you’ll run into the worst gifts, along with the worst prices, when you wait until the last minute to do your shopping.
Therefore, it’s important to do your shopping ahead of time. Normally, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are dragged on for a week or so; so, there’s always a deal for you up until Christmas week. Plus, when you shop early, you’ll rest assured that you got the right gifts for your recipients.
We hope that you keep in mind this quick guide the next time you go holiday shopping. By avoiding the above mistakes, your Christmas will be merrier, and your family and friends will thank you for it!