Friends shopping for the holidays

Every year, experts and shoppers alike come out with lists of shopping rules for the holidays. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the best way to tackle all of your holiday shopping needs.

However, some of these “rules” may not suit your holiday shopping agenda. Here are a few holiday shopping rules it’s OK to break this season.

Only Use Cash

Many experts recommend a cash-only system during the holidays. Only using cash helps you stick to a budget. But you may be missing out on rewards and cash-back bonuses from your purchases.

Credit cards are financial tools. If used responsibly, they can yield a lot of benefits. Many credit card companies have reward programs and incentives for shopping with certain retailers. If you plan to spend extra money this holiday season, why not earn the extra cash back or points toward travel rewards?

Keep in mind, if you decide to use your credit card this season, don’t overspend. You’ll still need to stick to your budget and spend responsibly. Going into debt isn’t worth the rewards you’ll receive for the additional cash spent.

So, if you’ve created a budget and understand your credit card rewards, consider using plastic when completing your holiday shopping.

Subscribe to All Email Lists to Get the Best Deals

If you do a lot of online shopping, it’s tempting to sign up for every newsletter in order to get the latest discounts. Subscribing to your favorite retailer’s newsletters makes it easy to stay current on the deals and discounts offered.

However, receiving these newsletters may also encourage you to overspend. Think back to the last time you received an email from one of your favorite retailers. Did you decide to partake in some instant online shopping? Did you at least visit the site to browse the latest deal? This may seem harmless, but it can also tempt you to purchase items that aren’t on your holiday shopping list.

If you’re looking for a deal on a specific item, it may be more beneficial to sign up for a deal alert. Sites like Brad’s Deals and Amazon let you customize your alerts. This way, you won’t be tempted to purchase unnecessary items.

Brand Loyalty Always Pays Off

Many of your favorite brands may offer rewards and loyalty points for shopping with their store. However, that doesn’t mean your brand of choice is always the best option.

During the holidays, it’s easy to gravitate toward the brands you love. But only shopping with your favorite brands could end up costing you.

That’s why it’s important to compare every item on your shopping list. Try to avoid purchasing items just because you’re loyal to their brand.

Heading Out to Your Local Store

It may be convenient to stop by the mall on your way home from work, but this may not be the best option for completing any last-minute shopping. Retailers use numerous tactics to encourage you to purchase more items once you enter the store. Some of these tactics include:

  • Slow music, which may encourage you to stay and linger around the store
  • Putting name-brand items at eye level
  • Bargain bins or sales located at the entrance of the store
  • Offering buy-one-get-one-free (BOGO) deals

This season, it may be best to complete the majority of your shopping online. With retailers offering free shipping and returns, you may end up saving time and money. Shopping online may also save you the stress of fighting the crowds when waiting in line and finding a parking space. Purchasing items online also makes it easier to compare prices and specifications.

Don’t Purchase Anything for Yourself

Many experts recommend avoiding purchasing gifts for yourself during the holidays. This advice will help you better manage your money and stay within your budget. However, the holidays may provide the opportunity to purchase certain items at discounted rates.

For example, certain grocery items tend to go on sale, such as butter, sugar, flour, frozen vegetables and more. The holidays are a great time to stock up on these items.

Another example is kitchen appliances. Name-brand mixers and gadgets tend to go on sale during December. So, if you’ve been eyeing a new crockpot for your next holiday meal, it may be time to purchase a little something for yourself.

You may also want to consider giving yourself the gift of relaxation. The holidays tend to be extremely busy and cause a lot of stress. A great way to refresh may be to purchase a massage or spa treatment. Spending an hour relaxing could be just what you need to get through the season.

If you decide to purchase a treatment, ask the salon or spa if they offer discounts on gift cards or multiple services. This is a great way to save a little extra money on a gift for you and a loved one.

Avoid Debt at All Costs

This is a great piece of advice. However, debt isn’t always preventable. Instead of worrying about going into debt, create a plan of action if you overspend during the holidays. One of the best ways to manage debt is to be as proactive as possible.

Sit down and develop a debt repayment plan for January. Make sure your debt repayment plan has actionable steps you can take. For example, you may want to put a freeze on some of your subscription services such as Hulu or Spotify until your holiday debt is repaid.

Developing a debt repayment plan doesn’t mean you will need to use it. It simply means it’s there in case you overuse your credit cards this season. After all, you don’t want to waste this joyful season worrying about unpredictable debt.

The Bottom Line

There are numerous strategies you can use when tackling your holiday shopping lists. Keep in mind, not every strategy will suit your needs. Pick and choose holiday shopping rules that will help you stay in budget and manage stress throughout the season.

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