The holidays are here again; the attractive deals, shopping-inspired atmosphere and wild rush to purchase “limited” goods. It is easy to get carried away in the melee of excitement.

Remember, you will have to take account of your finances afterwards. In a survey, about 43% of people admitted to financial regret after the fervour of the holidays was over. You don’t want this to be your lot.

In this post, our financial expert suggests savvy shopping tips that ensure you enjoy the holiday without making mistakes that will cost you, literally.

1.    Value your relationships

Everybody has a list of people they would like to gift something this holiday. However, careful planning is key to avoid putting pressure on your finances. Write down a list of your loved ones and friends. Put a certain amount you wish to spend beside their name. The price limits will help keep your holiday budget in check.

2.    Compare prices with your phone

There are many gift ideas available in all the retail stores. Don’t make the mistake of deciding on the first place you come across, or you may end up paying more when you could pay less. Rather, use your phone to compare the price of the same item in other stores. This should present you with cheaper- even better alternatives.

3.    Don’t put off shopping until it is late

The holiday shopping experience banks on one thing; “limited offers”. Even though some of these items may not be limited, marketers use the scarcity principle to drive sales. When you buy early, you are somewhat immune to this effect. Moreover, you don’t get involved in the rush that is common with late shopping sprees. It is safer and more wallet-friendly.

4.    Research your options thoroughly

During the holidays, most people are in a hurry to secure the ‘best deals’ that they let down their guard. Online fraudsters capitalise on this to scam unsuspecting shoppers. Beware of deals that appear too good to be true.

Always research the vendor. Protect the details of your current account (or any other bank account) online. Watch out for fake websites, phishing scams and products that are not really there.

5.    Consider making gifts

The beauty of giving gifts to loved ones is that it doesn’t have to be expensive. As they say, the joy is in the gesture. If you are good with your hands, put on your creative hat and get crafting. There are many good ideas on DIY websites. Consider beautifully framed photos, cookies for your kids’ teachers, knitwear and so on. They are practical and cost effective.

6.    Manage your spending

Prepare a budget for your expenditures. It is essential to pen down a total amount you plan to spend this holiday. Watch the cash flow and note when you go off track.

It is easier to remain in control when you spot heavy spending early. Factor in additional expenses like delivery and shipping costs so you don’t get caught off guard. If you are travelling, create a travel budget too.

After the holidays, do a review of your expenses and write down lessons learned.

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