If you’ve had a credit card for longer than a year, you know the temptations of shopping for Christmas. Only those with an iron will can resist the lure of the Yuletide paraphernalia – shops glittering with decorations, carols drifting across the heads of busy shoppers, youngsters pointing at mind-boggling displays of toys, games and other goodies and hassling parents to buy, buy, buy…
And if you’re a spendthrift, you dread the Season to be Jolly, because you know it’s followed by the Season of Folly! Your card is maxed out, you have no recovery strategy and you spend each pay day bemoaning the folly of cruising into the holiday season without a plan.
But by putting a few savvy Christmas shopping tactics in place in September, you can minimize your overspending and your New Year really will be happy and prosperous!
Tactic No. 1
Just like the song says – “make a list and check it twice.” Don’t even think of cruising the shops without a Christmas list. Every retailing trick is already in place to trap people who Christmas shop without a list – displays at eye level, 20% off sales, lay away now – pick up on Christmas Eve, etc., etc. A Christmas shopper without a list is a sitting duck!
Tactic No. 2
Start buying Christmas gifts now. This tactic serves a couple of purposes:
• It greatly reduces last minute panic buying, usually with a credit card, that blows out your budget and causes most of the New Year pain.
• You will have at least two monthly accounts to deal with before Christmas, which, of course, you will pay in full – so now you have already crossed off several items and paid for them, and it’s only the end of November!
Tactic No. 3
Time is now on your side. Because you are so well organized, you have plenty of time to find the coolest gifts for the people you love, at the best prices! Your credit card is now indispensable for the following reasons:
• You can shop online, saving on the cost of fuel, parking and, eh-hem, snacks.
• When the purchase arrives, if it is unsuitable for any reason, you still have time to return it and get the refund straight back onto your card.
• Many online retailers offer postage and handling discounts for multiple purchases.
If you buy a number of Christmas items online at the same store, you stand to save even more.
Tactic No. 4
Think of your Christmas credit card purchases as a short-term, temporary loan. Imagine that you don’t have a card and you’ve borrowed your Christmas money in cash from your old Aunt Maudy who will want all the money back by the end of November. Set out a budget that mandates that all of your Christmas gifts are paid for, come hell or high water, by that date.
With these tactics planned and in place you will be in an excellent position come December 1, to really enjoy the positive experiences this wonderful celebration offers. You know what’s left to be done before the shops close on Christmas Eve, and your plastic still has funds available for a last-minute dash to the mall.
And isn’t that part of the fun? – the adrenalin rush as you miraculously find a park at the entrance, jostling with the crowds to grab the last of something, and the deep satisfaction of knowing that your holiday spending is totally under control. From this position, if you do see something you absolutely must have, you can take out the plastic and treat yourself or someone you love. Why not? It’s Christmas!