Most Common Financial Mistakes to Avoid this Holiday Season

Posted by Megan Pacheco on Nov 14, 2013 11:11:23 PM

shoppers

6 Tips to Prevent Overspending this Holiday Season

Guest post by Dylan Adams

Holiday shopping can be one of the year’s most stressful tasks. Between buying great gifts, decorating, and creating spectacular meals, finances aren’t always at the forefront of a person’s mind. But with a few quick and easy tips on how to avoid common financial mistakes, you can remove the stress of the holiday season from your wallet, even if you can’t get the in-laws out of your house. Here’s what to avoid.

Forgetting to Make a List

Without a list of things you need, whether it be a grocery list for a holiday meal or a list of the people receiving gifts from you this year, a surefire way to overspend on things you don’t need is to try to keep track of all of it in your head, or worse, wing it when you get there. Another drawback of forgetting to make a list is that it might require you to make multiple trips to the same store, draining your gas tank as well as your bank account.

Neglecting to Set a Budget

One of the easiest ways to overspend this holiday season is to shop without a budget. Instead, figure out how much it’s possible for you to spend, total, on gifts, then calculate how much you can spend per person or per gift. If you’re still feeling strapped for cash, this might be a great time to assess your overall budget. You might want to consider saving money by using less heat this winter, clipping some coupons for your holiday shopping (there's an app for that!), or saving on your phone and internet (try bundling services; check Verizon FiOS availability to see if they’re an option.)


Failing to Return Unwanted Items

Bought a gift only to turn around and find something better or cheaper? One of the easiest ways to lose money during the holiday season is to fail to return gifts you’re no longer going to give. Whether your ordered the gift online and haven’t made it to the post office to ship it back, or you can’t manage to get another visit to a store into your daily routine, don't let returning those “never mind” purchases fall by the wayside. That way, you free up as much money as possible to splurge on the expensive turkey or get your special someone an extra something.

Buying Everything Online

Doing all holiday shopping online certainly is convenient, but it has a major drawback: things often seem cheaper until shipping costs are added. Instead, shop smart online. Purchase things you can’t easily get or that aren’t available in stores. Take advantage of websites that have free shipping deals or low-cost gift wrapping, and consider saving yourself a trip to the post office for gifts that are going out of town. Resist the temptation to buy everything sight-unseen and rack up huge shipping charges in the process.

Avoiding Comparing Prices

Sometimes the idea of shopping around until you find the best price seems exhausting. Though buying everything online isn’t always a good idea, the internet is a great resource for comparing all kinds of products and prices before you get to the store. Plus, shopping around online might alert you to deals or coupons you weren’t aware of. If you don’t compare both prices and products, there’s a good chance you’ll miss the best deals. Fortunately, there are several apps for that.


Shopping Last Minute

Not only will stores be crowded the day before a big holiday, you’ll probably feel pressured to buy things quickly. You won’t have time to compare prices or models, and you might feel like settling on more expensive or convenient items to cut down on your list and on the amount of time you have to spend in the haze of holiday-shopping-induced panic. You can do much of your consumer research before you ever set foot in the store, luckily.

So even when you’re stressing about the fact that your gift-wrapping skills aren’t the greatest, you won’t have to stress about overspending. As long as you’re paying attention this holiday season, your finances will stay healthy. Which thankfully removes one thing from your list of possible New Year’s Resolutions.