It may be too late for you Black Friday shoppers who were camped out at the Franklin Mills Walmart or the Target on Bustleton Avenue, but the rest of our Northeast readers may be able to financially survive the holiday season if they follow these suggestions.
If you have not started your shopping, put yourself on a budget – this can be a certain dollar amount per person or an aggregated budget for all your anticipated spending. Stick to it no matter what. It can be hard, but remember it is the retailers’ mission to get you to spend as much as you can, whether you can afford it or not.
Impulse purchases are one of the biggest problems that shoppers fall victim to. Plan your purchases ahead of time. Scour those ads and identify what you are going to buy at the best price. Walk into the stores with a list. There have been a number of studies around customer buying habits in retail stores; they frequently purchase fewer items when they go into a store with a list.
Try to stay away from credit card purchases if you cannot pay off the amount of the purchases by the time your next bill comes in. I see too many people who carry holiday purchases on their cards for months and longer. Paying 20 percent interest or higher can negate any good deal you may have gotten on your purchases. Appropriate use of your cards and sticking to your budget are probably the two most important things you can do.
What stores will you be buying from? Do you know the store’s return policy? Purchasing from small retailers is a great way to help the local economy, but you need to make sure you have the flexibility to return the item if you need to. Even the big retailers can have stringent return policies or have re-stocking fees. Just do your homework.
Finally, remember the holidays are supposed to be a time to enjoy time with friends and family. Please do not spend more than you can really afford. Doing so only will only cause stress for months to come as you work to pay off the purchases.
Have a happy holiday season!
Jim Heisler is a Certified Financial Planner with Family Wealth Services in Holmesburg. You can read all his Financial Perspective columns here.
Registered Representative, Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., A Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC and Investment Advisor Representative, Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc. a Registered Investment Advisor. Family Wealth Services, LLC and Cambridge are not affiliated.
Jim Heisler, CFP®, CDFA™, CASL™
Family Wealth Services, LLC
8725 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19136