Savvy Shopping From North Central Florida
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- "What's in your wallet?" Could be fiscal dynamite for some shoppers.
With the biggest shopping weekend of the year approaching, millions of people are planning to spend quite a few bucks over the four- day Thanksgiving holiday.
Some North Central Florida shoppers are determined to place limits on themselves-- and their wallets.
And without a plan or budget, it's way too easy to abuse your card and start the new year with some unnecessary debts...
"I don't go shopping on Black Friday…," said Nona Jones.
Nona Jones from Gainesville says she avoids the store madness on the busiest day of the year.
Instead of waiting to shop on a single day, she tries to budget herself…
"I'll take cash on me, I have three different debit cards and I make sure that each debit card only has a certain limit on them," said Jones.
Jones considers herself a "smart shopper."
John Banko, a finance lecturer at the University of Florida says it's better when two people talk about a budget together and then stick to it.
"I think that's hard to do individually. So I know when my wife and I, if we actually talk about what the list is, we do a much better job than if one of us tries to handle that ourselves," said Banko.
And making a holiday list starts with budgeting how much money you are going to spend on each person and what they really want.
"We want our kids to have that magic Christmas Day. And I think if you really look at kinda what your kids enjoy or what your spouse enjoys, you probably don't need to spend as much as you want to."
The Florida Retail Federation says the average home spends between 700 and 800 dollars during the holiday season.
The question is… it that too much money?
"It's probably too much if you are borrowing to do this. If you don't have the cash in hand, if you're going to be paying this off in January, February, March, that probably is too much," said Banko.
But Banko says the perfect holiday isn't about the perfect gift.
"There's no holiday I can look at growing up or even now where I base how happy I am on what was under the tree or what wasn't under the tree. And again that's hard, cause as a parent I want that magic, but that's probably not it if I really think about what makes my children happy," said Banko.
Here are ten tips to make this an affordable holiday season from LowCards.com:
1. Make a budget and a shopping list. Start with what you spent last year and then keep a record of all gift purchases and holiday expenses--from postage stamps to the food for the office party. It is hard for shoppers to make a budget and easy to underestimate their spending. According to the National Retail Federation, the average holiday shopper will spend $737.95 on gifts, decorations, greeting cards and more, two percent less than the $752.24 they spent last year.
2. Change your shopping habits now before you get into the spirit of the season. If you can't afford to pay off your credit card in November, then you can't afford to add more to it in December.
3. The best way to stick to your budget and avoid impulse spending is to pay in cash. People who pay in cash spend less than those that pay with plastic. Paying cash is a painful reminder of how much things actually cost.
4. Verify the credit limit and your balance on every credit card you use. Charging to your limit can trigger a lower credit score and a higher APR.
5. If you are looking for a new credit card, this may be a good time to apply. If the card has a 0 percent introductory rate for purchases for a year or longer, you can use your card as a free loan for holiday spending. This is recommended only if you pay it off before the interest charges begin.
6. Pay attention to the price of the item after you purchase it. If the price drops during a specified time and you paid with a credit card, some issuers may reimburse the difference. MasterCard's Price Protection offers this for a period of 60 days; Citi Price Rewind offers this for 30 days if the price is at least $25 lower that what you paid. You may have to register the purchase online as well as keep your store and credit card receipts as proof of purchase.
7. If you are going to carry a balance, contact your issuer and ask for a lower rate. There is no guarantee that it will be lowered, but it never hurts to ask.
8. Avoid using the convenience checks that regularly appear in your mailbox this time of year. Read the terms and conditions to know exactly what you are getting. There is typically a 3 or 4 percent fee for using these checks and they can charge a higher interest rate than your credit card.
9. Use your rewards points for holiday shopping. These can be used to buy gift cards with many retailers.
10. Pay attention to partner programs. Most credit card issuers have a partner program that offers discounts or bonuses for online purchases with certain companies. The programs vary by issuer, but the partners could be stores where you already shop. Discover turns $20 rewards into $25 gift cards. Citi gives additional points when you shop at retail partners such as 12 points per $1 spent at Restaurant.com and 5 points per $1 spent at Harry and David.
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