“The Season” is fast approaching and everyone is getting ready to shop, shop, and shop some more. Before spending all of your hard earned money, please allow me to share a few tips to help you save money this season.
Plan: I am sure you have heard not to go grocery shopping when you are hungry. If you do, everything will look good to you… and you will want to buy it. Well, the same is true when you go shopping for the holidays. You have to plan in advance and set some financial limits for what you can spend before you go shopping.
Shop Early: You wanted red – but they are all gone…so, you settle for blue. Also, the blue ones cost just a little more – because “It’s the LAST ONE” – and they know you need it (supply and demand). Shopping early allows you to view all of the choices and find exactly what you want at the right price.
Compare: If you know what you want (plan) and there are several of these available (shop early), check out a number of stores to find the best value. This does not mean you have to actually go to a number of stores – that will cost some travel money – and remember we are on a budget. In my day, we would say – “Let your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages.” Today, do a Google or Bing search to check prices across many stores for what you want. Who knows, Amazon might have it with free shipping.
Coupons & Rebates: There are so many coupons and rebates out there on so many products. It just takes a moment to fill out that form (many are online) to get some of your money back. Go ahead – do the paperwork and follow up on your rebate.
Credit Cards: My final tip is a caution about using credit cards for holiday shopping. I want to be upfront – if you are not a disciplined individual – using a credit card is not for you. Holiday shopping with a credit card allows you to buy now and pay later. That’s a good thing if you have the budget to pay the entire credit card bill when it arrives. Otherwise, there is something called interest that will add to the cost of your item each month it goes unpaid. If you planned in advance and set your financial limits before shopping, then using your credit card might be a wise choice. But remember, before using a credit card for something that you “want” instead of something you “need,” be sure you have the money in hand to pay the entire bill off when it comes in the mail.
About the Author: Don Ferguson is the Project Consultant and financial expert for WIN Network: Detroit. He has a wealth of experience in finance and financial literacy programs. He earned his B.S. in Mathematics at Virginia State University, and completed executive education programs at Babson College, University of North Carolina, and Duke University. In addition, he is deeply dedicated to many programs and groups throughout the city, such as 100 Black Men of America and the NAACP. Don’s financial advice will be featured on the WIN Network: Detroit blog.