116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Five things not to do when shopping this holiday season
Dec. 2, 2011 9:12 am
As you head out to shop this holiday season, it's smart to arm yourself with timely shopping tips. Horizons Consumer Credit Counseling Service reminds consumers of five simple things not to do when shopping this year:
1. Do not carry your checkbook or more credit cards than you will use during your shopping trip. If your wallet is lost or stolen, this will limit the damage.
Tip: Make a copy of the front and back of all credit cards, and put the list in a safe place at home. In an emergency, you will have easy access to a list of all your cards, the account numbers, and the bank's customer service number to report the incident.
2. Do not carry large amounts of cash. Even if you are committed to paying for your purchases with cash, be aware that pick-pockets take advantage of crowded areas and distracted people.
Tip: Instead, make frequent trips to the ATM to replenish your stash of cash. Or, consider using your debit card for transactions. Make sure you hang onto receipts and record transactions in your check register to avoid overdrafts. Use your bank's ATM to avoid charges!
3. Do not shop while in a hurry. You'll end up spending more than you should just to mark the item off your list.
Tip: Block out a specific time for shopping. Make your first trip a leisurely one, simply getting an idea of what's available this year and at what price. Take notes, and once back at home, get organized for the actual buying adventure.
4. Do not shop without a list. Santa thinks it's a useful tool, and so should you.
Tip: Make your list specific. Don't just include the names of those you're buying gifts for, but also include the specific item you're looking for, and most importantly, the amount you intend to spend. Having an overall holiday budget floating around in your head isn't good enough. Without a plan, you likely to overspend impulsively.
5. Do not pile new debt on top of old. Some people are still paying for 2010 holiday expenses as they enter the 2011 buying season.
Tip: Think about it, you're buying for friends and relatives who will be the first to understand if you need to cut back. If you are in a tenuous financial situation, it will only be made worse through over spending beyond your means. Consider writing a heartfelt note to those on your list, being sincere about your feelings toward them and why they mean so much to you. Most people can't recall what they received last holiday season, but a personal note will be a treasured gift remembered for years to come.
"We're living in difficult economic times given today's financial climate," said Scott Shook, Director of Horizons Consumer Credit Counseling. "Being financially responsible this holiday season is a gift to yourself and to those you care about."
If you need help creating a holiday budget or paying off existing debt, don't delay reaching out for help. To reach Horizons Consumer Credit Counseling Service call 319-398-3576 or 800-826-3574. Visit us online at: