WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) — Shopping for the holidays is always a challenge, and it’s hard enough finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
But doing it all within your budget? Even tougher.
Amy Elliott likes to get a head start with her holiday shopping, and her sure way of staying within her budget is finding deals.
“They have all the deals everywhere you go. Look in the paper, Google, you can Google whatever you want for the kids, or for the adults,” Elliott said.
Organization is key for Elliott, and that’s NerdWallet’s first rule of thumb for anyone trying to stay in budget.
NerdWallet’s personal finance expert Kimberly Palmer said staying organized ensures all purchases are the necessary ones.
“A lot of people run into the trouble of double buying, buying more than one gift when they didn’t really intend to, especially when you’re shopping over so many weeks for the holidays,” Palmer said.
One app she recommends for that is the Santa Bag app.
In it you can set your budget, track your purchases and make sure you miss no one on your list.
Phone apps aren’t the only thing that can help, browser extensions also are useful.
Palmer recommends Honey, which can automatically find and apply coupon codes as you shop, and Camelizer, which tracks price histories for products on Amazon.
“You want to make sure you’re making that purchase when the price is lowest. This year, it’s really hard to predict what day is best. It might not be on ‘Black Friday’ that’s the best day to make your purchases, it could be another day,” Palmer said.
According to Palmer, supply shortages may be what gets us overbudget.
Especially if a loved one is dead set on a specific product.
“If you want to make sure you give someone a certain Lego set or the latest smartwatch, or Fitbit, or whatever it is that you want to make sure you have, if you see it in the store, you probably want to go ahead and buy it,” Palmer said.
Credit cards may be good to use, especially one that gives cash back.
But be careful, Palmer says more and more people take longer to pay back holiday credit card buys.
“Every year, we find out that more than a quarter of people are actually still paying off their credit card payments from last holiday season. So, it really is a dangerous road,” Palmer said.
Of course, the pressures of the holidays are more than enough to motivate an impulse buy.
Palmer says if it gets too much, just breathe.
“Leave the store, set your stuff aside, maybe ask the store to put it on hold for you, if you’re shopping online, also give yourself a break, sometimes we just need a mental break before we make the purchase,” she said.
When budgeting, Palmer recommends including decorations and any travel you’ll be doing, which will help keep you aware of all your spending.
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