Amanda H. Christensen, AFC
USU Extension Associate Professor; Utah Money Moms Editor
I know you've seen it...many retailers are already promoting Black Friday deals and will continue to bombard us with a barrage of ads all month long. I've already started to feel a little FOMO. But before we jump the gun and dive in to holiday spending in 2020, I'd recommend a few things to help us stay savvy shoppers this season.
Tip 1: Starting early can help you spread holiday costs out over a few months rather than everything hitting your bank account in December or January. This also helps with our efforts to give thoughtful gifts-which is always our intention-but sometimes we run out of time and simply pull the trigger on something less meaningful or more expensive than we'd have hoped. Start early, check things off your list and unplug from the holiday hub-ub to enjoy the reason for the season.
Tip 2: Create a holiday spending plan. Don't forget to include the gift exchange at work or any neighbor gifts you'd like to give out. Traditional activity's may have costs associated with them so don't forget that either. Once you've listed everything, set a per-person (or per activity, etc.) spending limit. I like to use a free app like Santa's Bag (or something similar) because it helps me easily track my per-person spending and visually shows me my progress. What a per-person spending limit does is helps me focus on getting the best bang for my buck within that spending limit.
Tip 3: Keep good records such that if an item you’ve purchased goes on sale at a better price later in the season, you can be a savvy consumer and return the item or ask for the difference in store credit. As for physical receipts, during the holiday season I make space for them in my coupon/gift card organizer that’s in my purse and always with me. Digital receipts can be difficult to track as they can get buried in your email. It’s as simple as creating a “Christmas 2020” email folder and dragging all online order confirmations into that folder.
Tip 4: A savvy consumer takes advantage of the sales and knows when to stop spending. The "good deals" will keep coming. We'll be bombarded all through December as well so once you've reached that per-person spending limit and checked everything off your list, be done. Unplug. Last-minute impulse buys can be budget busters! The sale season is only working for you if you don’t continue to buy, buy, buy.
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