By Beth Kobliner, REDBOOK
A friend recently confessed to me that she's still paying off last year's holiday gift-buying bills! Start saving today so you don't ring in the New Year with a Visa hangover.
1. Budget and don't budge. Figure out exactly how much you can afford to drop on presents without jeopardizing your regular bills. Then, siphon off a little money from each paycheck for the next six weeks so you aren't dipping into your emergency savings or relying on credit to play Secret Santa. Consider stashing the cash in a savings account (watch out for fees!) so you aren't tempted to blow it.
2. Skip Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving is the gateway to holiday spending sprees. Though you may find some deals, retailers have a dirty little secret: "For a limited time only" or "While supplies last" promotions are classic ways to trick you into buying things you don't need by making you think they're about to sell out. (They rarely are.) My strategy: Avoid the frenzy by knocking your whole list out by the week before Thanksgiving. The morning after Turkey Day? Stay home and eat pie.
3. Buy virtually. Shoppers are willing to pay about 50 percent more for stuff they can actually touch, according to a recent study from Caltech, so the free samples and product demos stores offer during the holidays can put a wrench in your spending plan. Try to stick to the Internet, and make your first stop couponsherpa.com to score special discount codes.
REDBOOK's money expert, Beth Kobliner, is the author of Get a Financial Life and is on the President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability.
More from REDBOOK:
Have Vacation Sex...In Your Own House
5 Flattering Jeans For Each Body Type
- 6 Shocking Reasons Why Men Stray
- 101 Date Night Ideas
- Get More on Love, Family & Fashion - Subscribe to REDBOOK & Save Up to 84%!
Permissions: Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.