Christmas Shopping: Do's and Don'ts

Christmas is always a time of joy, and of course, it is also the season for lots of shopping. It is that time of the year when malls are decorated with Christmas trees, chandeliers and streamers to entice holidays shoppers. On the other hand, online retailers are also pulling up their socks with a range of festive discounts, deals and offers. If you are not careful with your holiday spending, you can easily go overboard with your credit card and exceed your budget. So, before you swipe that credit card at the cash register or shop online, read these tips to become a smart shopper this holiday season.

Christmas Shopping: The Do's 

Make a shopping list and set a budget: To avoid overspending, the first thing to do is to make a list of the things you actually want to buy well in advance. List out everything, from the gifts to be purchased two things you need for the home including decorations and groceries. Then, sit with your family and make the list. When you start shopping, keep this list with you and tick off the items as and when you make purchases. Along with the list, set a budget within which you need to finish your holiday shopping. This will help avoid impulsive buying and also help you save money. Also, this will give you a sense of accomplishment when you finish all your shopping within the set budget.

Know what to shop for online and what not to: Did you know that books and DVDs are cheaper online? Yes! If you are buying books, never go to a retail store because you can get better deals online during this season. Some online retailers even offer free shipping during the holiday season. If you have some time in hand, it is best to first check prices online before you head out to the mall. It is best to compare the difference in rate between online and retail outlets and then make a purchase decision. 

Keep the gifting creative and not expensive: Instead of the same old traditional gift-giving, do something different. For example, you can gift your wife or parents a health insurance policy instead of wasting money on expensive gifts that will be soon forgotten. A health insurance policy is the best gift for your loved ones because you will secure their future for a lifelong period. The best part about this is that you will not have to pay in a lump sum, you can pay the premium on a yearly or quarterly basis. 

Be prepared for impromptu visits and gift-giving: Remember that you can always have unexpected visits from friends and relatives during Christmas and New Year. So be prepared in advance with a set of additional gifts or chocolates to avoid only a one-sided gift exchange situation, which can get pretty embarrassing.

Be a smart shopper by looking for the best deals: The trick here is to look out for the best deals around and not get lured by discounts. Search for ‘buy one get 2 free’ deals, cashback offers and other sales deals, compare the offers and go for the best one. There are a number of good deals during the festive season. However, some discounts are offered on hiked up prices to lure consumers. So the trick is to be an informed consumer and you can be one by doing a bit of research on prices online.

Christmas Don’ts 

Don't forget about the exchange and return policy: Sometimes, we tend to get so carried away with holiday shopping that we forget to check if there is an exchange or return policy for the product purchased. Since there are many offers and discounts during this season, some retail outlets and online stores usually do not allow exchange or return on goods that are on sale. If you are purchasing something for gifting make sure there is a return policy as this will give some flexibility to the receiver. 

Don’t be an impulsive shopper: If you have not made a shopping list, then you will just keep buying every nice thing that you see and end up overspending. So do not get lured by holiday offers and deals and read the fine print instead.

Don’t choose the wrong payment method: When you’re out there shopping or keying in your financial information on websites, the last thing you want is your personal information to be stolen and misused. The best thing to do is to use a credit card because it offers protection in case of fraud along with a range of other benefits such as purchase protection and price protection.

Don’t max out your credit limit: Spending more than your credit limit will affect your credit score. So, keep your credit utilization ratio low so that it will be easier for you to get loans in the future. 

It is very natural for holiday shoppers to exceed their budget. That is why it is important to be an organised and smart shopper and most of all an informed consumer who is not lured by discounts.