Using strategy when shopping

November 19, 2008 3:18:15 PM PST
Because many will be scaling back this holiday shopping season, you really have to strategize before you step into a mall. Doing prep work will save you money and headaches.

"I always spent a lot more than I could afford and was always generous with my holiday gifts," said Clarky Davis.

Davis's lavish spending habits not only landed her in debt, they transformed her into the debt diva. Now she helps others avoid going into debt.

When it comes to holiday shopping her first tip is to:

  • MAKE A PLAN

    "The first thing you need to do?Spending power has changed you need to make a plan on what you want to spend. Don't just think about, and you need to make a plan for what you want to spend for the holidays," said Davis.

    So use a work sheet and map out whom you are buying gifts for and how much you want to spend per person.

    Then you've got to factor in incidentals: The cost of gift wrap, postage, holiday cards, and how about this, the cost of going to the mall or store.

    The more organized you are the fewer trips you'll have to make and that saves on transportation costs and that's where the next tip comes in:

  • RESEARCH

    Check out the circulars and sale advertisements to know where you're going to shop and yes, sales are rampant right now, even before black Friday, but:

  • AVOID TEMPTATION

    "Buy only what you can afford and buy if for the least amount possible," adds Clarky.

  • DON'T DWADLE

    "If you wait til the last minute, you'll be pressed for time and you'll buy more than you intend to," she adds.

  • PAY WITH CASH AND PAY IN FULL "The pitfall of charging is that excitement of making that purchase more than you ever anticipated," adds Davis.

    In addition it is suggested that consumers avoid layaways and deferred payment plans, and whether you're making a big or small purchase,

  • BUY QUALITY

    "You want to spend your money on quality items that will last because we have less money to spend," suggests Davis. And Clarky's 7th tip,

  • SHOP OFF-RETAIL STORES

    Such as TJ Maxx

    And finally, if you've got a big family, decide ahead of time to exchange fewer gifts or set a price limit on those gifts. Remember the season isn't about spending, it's supposed to be about sharing.

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    WEB PRODUCED BY: Scott Curkin

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