The holiday shopping season can be overwhelming, and it's easy to get swept up in the excitement. Every retailer seemingly has incredible deals, making it hard for shoppers to resist, stick to a budget, and actually check to see if they're getting a good deal.
For anyone planning to shop during the holiday season -- whether it be now, on Thanksgiving, on Black Friday, on Cyber Monday, or later in the season -- it's best to have a plan. Start with a list of whom you need gifts for, examine your finances, make a budget, and avoid these holiday shopping mistakes.
1. You buy something you don't need
A TV that's really cheap isn't a good deal if you don't need a TV. The same is true for anything else. Low prices might tip you toward replacing an appliance that's on the way out (and doing that can be a sensible decision), but buying something you don't need because it's cheap or a little better than what you have is just wasting money.
2. You don't check prices
Just because a retailer says it's offering a deal does not mean it actually is. Before you even consider making a major purchase, do your homework and know what the normal price for the item is. You should also check multiple retailers to see which one is offering the best deal.
3. You don't check model numbers
One trick retailers use during the holiday season is selling stripped-down versions of popular products. The item might look like the regular version, and it may have a similar model number, but it might be missing important features. Check carefully that what you're buying actually offers the features you expect.
4. You wait too long
In some years prices go down as the season goes along. In others that does not happen, and you may actually pay more as inventory becomes thin. It's great to try to get the best deal possible, but if there's something that you really need (for yourself or as a gift), do your homework and buy it when a good price is offered. You may spend a little bit more, but you don't risk missing out.
5. You overspend
It's not worth going into debt to buy things over the holidays. Make a budget and stick to it.
There's no shame in not spending a fortune over the holidays. If you have a hot-chocolate-and-marshmallows budget, it's a very bad idea to go buy champagne and caviar.
Be responsible and honor the season
You can enjoy the holiday season without buying a bunch of stuff. If you're a parent, that can be a challenge, but talk with your kids and explain why you're not going crazy with gifts. Find activities and other ways to enjoy the season if your budget does not allow for major purchases.