November 27, 2007

Three Tips for Holiday Spending

Canadian Tour of Personal Finance blogs.

If your outgo is more than your income, your upkeep will be your downfall. --- Unknown
It's the time of year when many spend on others ... and themselves. Without self-restraint, the January bills can be a downer.

Through The Years
Since the days when you could say "Merry Christmas" without offending anyone, we've celebrated the special, joyous holiday season. Good will towards all. We had a tree and presents.

In the early 1980s, I started celebrated Boxing Day instead. At Sam The Record Man where everything was on sale. And stereo equipment stores. Remember these were the days before VCRs, computers and even audio CDs.

Nowadays, even Boxing Day has lost its charm. Retailers like Best Buy and Future Shop start their sales online on December 25th. Boxing Day sales start at crazy times like 7am --- with lineups!

Lessons Learned
Here are three tips to deal with overspending:
  1. Know your prices
  2. Know your limits
  3. Delay opening impulse buys
Know Your Prices
Big ads and long lines don't mean big savings. If you don't know the regular selling prices, you could overpay for an item on "sale". Last year, I indulged in a GPS navigation system. I started researching in the fall and monitoring prices. Prices dipped lowest in late November/early December. That's when I bought. On Boxing Day and beyond, discounts off the normal prices were smaller. On Boxing Day, I saw brands I'd never seen before or since. Retailers must bring in items they didn't normally stock just to mark them down for unwary customers.

Know Your Limits
Naturally, buying is easier than paying. It helps to know how much you can afford before you go shopping. Some items decrease in price or improve in quality. Computers, for example. You can benefit by waiting.

Impulse Byes
If you bought an item on impulse, wait 48 hours before opening the package (assuming it won't go bad, you have self-control, and it's returnable). You can pretend you bought online and are waiting for delivery. If you lose interest, return the item. This works very well for me. Right now, here's what's going back unopened: car DC-to-AC converter, aluminum computer case and a backpack. They may soon be joined by a LED flashlight you can recharge by winding up. The following passed the wait: nonstick cookware, vacuum cleaner. They were worth the wait.

Other Tips
Read other posts on holiday spending from the Canadian Tour of Personal Finance Blogs.

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