Don’t Let Holiday “Deals” Become Holiday DebtMonday, November 22, 2010

ATLANTA GA — The biggest shopping day of the year is just around the corner and the National Retail Federation estimates that 138 million consumers will be doing holiday shopping this Black Friday. Consumers are looking to get more for their money and will rely more on cash and debit card purchases than credit cards. In fact, the number of consumers planning to use credit cards for holiday shopping this year (27.6 percent) is the lowest since 2002. (Source: National Retail Federation)

“Paying cash for holiday purchases is a smart financial decision,” said Mechel Glass, director of education for CredAbility. “It is especially critical during these challenging economic times that consumers make wise and well thought out purchasing decisions throughout the holiday season and beyond.”
 
CredAbility encourages consumers to take advantage of sales to make planned purchases, but leave other items on the shelf. “Don’t let the thought of getting a ‘deal’ cloud your judgment,” added Glass. “Impulse purchases can create holiday debt that you will pay for well into the New Year and beyond.”

CredAbility offers tips to help shoppers:

Make a list and stick to it
Having a list of the people you need to buy for and a budget for each person is a great way to make sure you don’t overspend. Jot down ideas for each person and use that to help guide you while you shop.

Plan your shopping before you leave the house
Use the newspaper circulars and the internet to plan your shopping trip. If you know exactly where you are going and what you plan to buy while you are there, you are less likely to deviate from your plan. Get an advanced look at Black Friday ads at web sites such as www.theblackfriday.com and www.bfads.net to help plan your day. Work with friends to cover the early morning specials at many stores. And don’t be tempted to overspend simply because things are on sale. Stick to your list.

Shop before the big sales
Avoid the Black Friday mall crowds by shopping a day or two earlier.  Many stores will refund the price difference if the item goes on sale within days of purchase. This policy may not apply to all Black Friday specials.

Avoid window shopping
Try not to head to a store without even an idea of what you are planning to buy. You will almost always end up spending more than you planned. If you go to a store for a particular item, get it and leave instead of strolling through all of the aisles.

Leave credit cards at home
Studies have shown that people who use credit cards to buy gifts spend an average of 30 percent more than people who use cash.  When you add in all the finance charges over months, or even years, that “perfect gift” could cost you twice what you paid for it, or more. You can’t make an impulse buy if you don’t have the money with you to do it. Leaving your credit cards at home will require you to take some time to think about it before making a purchase.

Shopping Online? Don’t forget about “Cyber Monday”
The Monday after Thanksgiving is expected to be a busy shopping day for online retailers.  Online stores may be offering special deals with the hopes of increasing their sales. Visit www.cybermonday.com for regular updates on online deals.

Make sure you are really getting a deal
While there are many opportunities to save money this holiday season, something is not a deal just because the retailers says it is. Do your homework. Research the items you are considering, compare prices at several retailers, and be sure it is a deal before making the purchase.

Compare the price your retailer is offering by using sites such as www.pricegrabber.com, www.bizrate.com, and www.nextag.com. For information on available rebates on consumer electronics, computer software and hardware, and other items, visit www.rebateplace.com. And before you buy anything, look for coupons to save on in-store and online purchases. Sites such as www.couponcabin.com or www.dealcatcher.com can help you find deals for dollars off, a percentage off, or free shipping that can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings.