NEW HAVEN – The busy holiday shopping season is about to begin with Black Friday and Cyber Monday on November 25 and November 28. This year, the National Retail Federation predicts consumers will spend more than $465 billion – up 2.8 percent from last year – during the busy holiday shopping season, despite the still-struggling economy.
To help consumers manage their finances through the holiday shopping season, Citizens Bank is offering consumers holiday spending and budgeting tips. These suggestions are designed to help consumers manage their money, prevent the accumulation of debt and make the most of their holiday dollar.
“With the economy continuing to put pressure on household budgets, the holiday shopping season once again may be stressful for many consumers this year,” said Ned Hancy, president of Citizens Bank’s for Connecticut and Rhode Island. “We encourage everyone to plan ahead and to take a disciplined approach to shopping. These measures will help pay off all year long, not just during the holidays.”
Citizens Bank suggests the following guidelines for holiday shopping:
Set up a spending budget – Know your spending limits and avoid impulse purchases. Be realistic and keep your budget manageable. Make a list and set a spending limit for each name on the list.
Don’t bring all of your credit cards – Choose one or two cards to shop with and leave the remainder home. You are more likely to overspend when you have all of your credit cards with you. Use the cards wisely and try to pay your credit card bill in full each month.
Write down credit and debit card information – Make a list of all your account numbers and phone numbers for your cards in case your wallet is lost or stolen. Keep this list in a safe place.
Consider layaway plans – Some retailers are reviving layaway plans for people who want to purchase merchandise but cannot pay in full immediately. Be sure you understand the terms and are not charged fees or interest. And be careful – the payments may be deferred, but you will still have to pay them.
Consider nontraditional gifts – In place of purchasing a gift, consider making a contribution in someone’s name to a local charity. Other nontraditional gift-giving ideas include donating your time and expertise to run errands, shovel snow, cook dinner or assist with other household chores.
Start a savings plan – Consider beginning an automatic savings account for next year. Pay yourself first by automatically putting money in a savings account geared for holiday shopping. Citizens Bank’s GoalTrack Savings can help you create a plan.