My husband and I were just talking last night about how we are always struggling this time ofyear w. money! We always seem to be broke..boo. I caught this article and these tips and thought they were very helpful...Hope they help you, so your not eating Ramen Noodles up until Christmas:)
1. Discount fixation.
Retailers advertise deep discounts to get you to buy. But don't take them at their word without comparing prices. A store's sale price might reflect a markdown from the regular price, but there's no guarantee the manufacturer's suggested retail price isn't actually lower. Think more about the item you're buying. Also avoid unfamiliar brands and don't go crazy for bargains on footwear, apparel, power tools or anything else.
2. No budget.
Skipping a holiday spending budget is a great way to overspend. Make a list that includes amounts for each person you want to buy a gift for and stick to it. Be sure to create an overall budget that factors in other holiday-related expenses. Without a plan, you'll get caught up in the hype.
3. Debit dangers.
Debit cards have the advantage of taking money from your account and not giving you future payments. But using them on big items is risky because they don't offer the purchase protections that credit cards do. If you have a problem with a purchase you made on a debit card, you might eventually get your money back. But it will be much more trouble and take longer than if a credit card had been used.
4. Return policy missteps.
Tossing away receipts can be costly. Their value is for exchanges or returns, but there's another plus too: If the price is lowered after you buy an item, a receipt should get you a credit for the difference. Return policies are changing and retailers are refusing some returns or giving gift cards for the amount.
5. Being low-tech.
Smart phones are changing how we shop. People are following their favorite brands and retailers on social networking sites and retailers are taking advantage. It's easier for businesses to launch deals online. Coupons and last-minute offers can arrive as e-mail alerts or through social network accounts.
6. Extended warranties.
Here's when to buy an extended warranty: Basically never. The manufacturer's warranty should protect you against any defect for up to a year and the cost of protection beyond that isn't worth it. Instead of wasting anywhere from tens to hundreds of dollars on an extended warranty, put some extra cash in your emergency fund to help cover possible repairs or replacements.
7. Gift card gaps.
This is the first holiday season in which any gift card can't expire for at least five years. Also, inactivity and other fees are banned in the first year. But you should be careful of buying gift cards through online auction sites or classified ads. They might be counterfeit.
8. Shipping costs.
Free shipping is easier than ever to find. Even if you don't get free shipping, don't wait too long or you'll blow your budget to ship to out-of-town friends and family.
9. Store credit cards.
Saving 20 percent on a single large purchase might sound worth it. But remember that retailers promote their store cards because they make money on interest and late fees. Interest rates of more than 20 percent are common. Signing up for a store's credit card and then canceling after a short period can also hurt your credit score.
10. Exposing your ID.
Grab deals from the comfort of your living room but avoid becoming a victim of identity theft. Only do business with websites that are secure. A sign that it's OK to enter confidential information is if there's a padlock in the address bar on the checkout page. This means that the info you type in will be encrypted for your protection.
11. Fear of negotiating.
Prices are negotiable in electronics, jewelry and department stores. Shoppers are successful when they ask for a better price. Just make the negotiations friendly.