Once Halloween passes, retails stores make it very apparent that the Holiday season is upon us. While some of us have the tree and decorations up on November first, there are many of us who are just bracing for the hustle and bustle that comes with the holiday. But before you start pulling your hair out trying to figure out all of your holiday plans and what gifts you are going to be purchasing, it is a good idea to reassess your financial situation and make necessary preparations that can save you headaches and money in the long run.
Although the importance of spending time with loved ones should be the focus around the holidays, it’s very likely that a lot of your financial decisions over the holiday season are going to be tied to shopping expenditures. And that is okay, as long as you make smart shopping choices.
- Don’t let the holidays hit you like a brick wall. Set aside money throughout the year so that you can have a nice separate bank of funds for holiday shopping. If you are feeling like you might procrastinate in setting money aside, look into simple mobile banking apps that can be set up with automatic savings features and round up the change on purchases into an account for later use.
- Don’t rely on credit cards to finance your holiday spending. If you don’t have the money or can’t pay off the full statement balance by the due date, you probably shouldn’t be making the purchases.
- Retail store credit cards can seem like a good idea if you expect to be doing a lot of shopping at a particular retailer, and though some can offer good rewards, many of them have low limits and high-interest rates. Deciding on what criteria makes a great retail store card for you ahead of time is much better than making that decision at the point of sale at the store.
Aside from self-control and good budgeting decisions, also be sure to stay safe and secure in your spending this holiday season by keeping a close eye on your financial statements for any irregularities and taking precautions to avoid fraudulent scenarios.
- If you are planning on doing any shopping online, make sure you are doing it from a secure, private network, and only use trusted and secure websites (look for a lock symbol and “https” in the website’s URL when browsing).
- Using a credit card over a debit card for online and in-store transactions will give you an added layer of security since fraudulent charges or a lost or stolen card can be instantly reported and stopped when it is a credit issuer’s money. A debit card is tied to your bank account, and therefore, if a criminal uses your card for a fraudulent transaction, your money is instantly spent and every bank handles disputes differently which could leave you without the stolen money for weeks or even months.