Avoid These 5 Holiday Spending Mishaps

wrapped giftDid you spend too much last year on holiday presents last year? If so, you’re in good company – the average American spent over $700 on gift items in 2012. It’s easy to go overboard when shopping for loved ones and when the joy of giving feels built into the holiday spirit. This season, avoid a monstrous January credit card bill by taking a few simple precautions and reigning in your spending. Buying an excessive number of gifts for everyone isn’t the way to make the holidays more special. The old saying rings true:  it’s the thought that counts. Here are five spending mishaps to avoid this season.

Last minute shopping
One of the biggest mistakes consumers make is waiting until the absolute last minute to get all of their holiday shopping done. Shoppers run the risk of buying more gifts than needed, or not finding the present they had in mind for loved ones. Retail prices tend to creep back up during the last days before the holiday season ends. Consumers can avoid spending more than they need to by getting a head start on holiday shopping.  Begin the gift search before the holiday season and take the time to do a little research to make sure you’re getting the best prices. Your wallet and your loved ones will thank you. 

Making impulse purchases
Holiday shopping often feels synonymous with celebrating the holiday season. While the gift of giving is exciting, consumers commonly make purchases that weren’t originally on their gift list. Impulse purchases are risky because they can accumulate quickly, pushing shoppers way over their holiday budget. Instead, make a gift list before heading to the mall and stick to it. 

Using credit cards to cover holiday shopping
Credit card spending sprees are an especially common risk of gift shopping. When it feels like you’re spending nothing, it’s easy to shop impulsively. Holiday shoppers can quickly rack up credit card debt along with mounting interest by spending way more than they can afford.  Try paying with cash only to cover holiday gifts. When your wallet is empty, call it a day. It’s much easier to stick to a budget and monitor your gift giving with cash in hand. 

Buying for gifts for everyone
It’s not uncommon for shoppers to feel like they must buy holiday gift for every single person in their life. This year, try keeping it simple by giving gifts only to your immediate family and very closest friends. One other easy way to solve this dilemma is a day of baking. Everyone loves home-made treats and they’re an affordable way to get in the holiday spirit. 

Shopping ‘til you drop
Another holiday shopping mistake consumers make is spending the entire day at the mall. Again, unless you’re spending the bulk of the day compulsively comparing prices, you’re likely to overspend when you shop for hours upon hours. After making a gift list, schedule a short shopping period. Less time spent at the mall can save you money and keep your checking account balance afloat. 

This year, get an early and organized start on your shopping. It’s never too early to put yourself on a budget and begin making gift lists.  Take your time when selecting gifts for friends and family, and begin shopping as soon as possible to avoid inflated retail prices and frenzied purchases. By steering clear of these shopping slip-ups, you can stay focused on your financial goals while spending more time actually enjoying the holiday sesason!

This post was written by guest blogger John Gower of NerdWallet. 

NOTE: If you spent more than you wanted to, then you may want to consider transferring your high interest credit cards and loans to a Members 1st VISA Credit Card. Click here to learn more about our balance transfer option.



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