How to Shop Smart During the Holiday Shopping Season

gifts-570821_640The holiday shopping season is quickly approaching and soon Black Friday ads and deals will be advertised all over. If you budget for holiday shopping and truly need a few items this year, this could be a perfect time to rack up some deals.

Here are some tips to help you shop smart this year, have a pleasant experience and get the most bang for your buck.

Plan Ahead

If you have limited time and a limited amount of money to shop with, start by planning ahead and pricing items that you need before heading to the store. Nothing is worse than going to the store for one thing and getting sidetracked and tempted to purchase something else.

Before you get started, make a gift list and create a budget detailing how much you want to spend. Store ads will come in pretty handy when it comes to mapping out your shopping experience.

Be sure to focus on the sales and items that are most cost effective.

Shop Online

Holiday shopping can be enjoyable, but it can also be a pain if stores are crowded, items are scattered all over the place and there are super long lines. You might want to avoid all of that by shopping online for everything you need instead.

Cyber Monday is just as popular as Black Friday because thousands of retailers offer great deals for online shoppers as well that aren’t always available in the store. Shopping online allows you to get your shopping done quickly and painlessly from the comfort of your own home.

The only thing you should be careful about when shopping online is shipping costs. If you aren’t in any hurry to receive your items, you should always select the regular shipping option for the lowest cost. If you’re shopping on Amazon.com and have Amazon Prime, you will probably receive free 2-day shipping for most of the items you purchase.

If you happen to purchase a number of things online, most companies will offer free shipping if you reach a certain threshold like spending $50 or $75.

Track and Monitor your Credit Card Spending

Shopping during the holiday season can be the perfect time to use your credit card to earn extra points, rewards and cash back. It’s important to stick to your budget and track how much you are spending and hold on to your receipts.

You should check your accounts more often after you shop to make sure you are still keeping your utilization low and not carrying a huge balance that could drag your credit score down.

No one wants to end the year with a mountain of credit card debt, so just because you’re using a credit card doesn’t mean you can go overboard with spending.

Bring a Friend and Slow Down

Shop with a friend or family member for some company and some added assistance. Having someone with you who can look out for you will help you get organized and have a safer shopping trip.

Pickpockets often target people who are alone or seem stressed out and frazzled. Slow down if you feel overwhelmed and make sure your money is secured in your wallet or purse at all times unless you are performing a transaction. During a credit or debit transaction, be sure to be aware of your surroundings and cover your pin number.

As you leave a store and head to your car, make sure you didn’t drop anything on the way and lock your car doors and place all you items out of sight if you will be going to multiple stores and dropping things off in your car.

Bonus Tip: Take Advantage of Buying Items in Multiples

If you are shopping for gifts for others and realize that two or more people may enjoy the same item, don’t be afraid to purchase multiples and take advantage of bogo deals and ‘buy one get one free’ offers. For example, if your mom, aunt and mother-in-law all like Bath and Body Works, they may have a buy two get one free deal that you’d like to take advantage of.

Buying the same gift twice or multiple times doesn’t make you look cheap and it’s the easiest way to knock out gifts for multiple people while sticking to your budget.

To Wrap Up

Shopping smart is a must if you want to take advantage of holiday deals and embrace the spirit of giving to others this year. It’s important to have a plan primarily and get organized before you venture out into various different stores. If you prefer to stay home but still want to take advantage of sales, try shopping during Cyber Monday. Focus on your budget and avoid going overboard when it comes to using a credit card.

Are you planning on doing any shopping in the upcoming months? What will your strategy be and how do you plan to shop smart?

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