Smart Spending for the Holidays
In the middle of all the holiday hustle and bustle is holiday shopping. Avoid the “naughty” list by spending wisely during the holidays with these tips.
1. Set a budget. In 2013, the average American spent $767.271 during the holidays. This includes gifts for family, friends and co-workers, potluck dishes, wrapping paper, and holiday cards. Use a holiday budget planner that can be found online for free and that can break out your spending by category to help you set a realistic budget. Then take your total budget and subtract from it as you make purchases. Consider even putting the money into a separate account in order to more easily keep track of it. Watching your balance shrink will compel you to stay on track more than if you add up your spending as you go.
2. Use a credit card and get the most out of your purchases. Designate one credit card to put all your holiday purchases on by picking the one with rewards that you most prefer. You have to make these purchases regardless, so whether it be cash back, miles or points, make your holiday purchases work together to earn you a post-holiday season reward -- a reward that you could use towards next year’s holiday purchases!
In addition, using only one credit card makes it much easier to track down purchases and unlike cash, credit cards come with security benefits. For First Hawaiian Bank cardholders, call Customer Service immediately at (808) 847-4444 or (800) 342-2778 if any suspicious activity is detected.
3. Compare prices on the spot. RedLaser, ShopSavvy and BuyVia are free mobile applications for your smartphone that can scan a UPC barcode or a QR code and find out if there is a better price at another retailer or online store for the same item. Their other handy features include product reviews, hours and store maps, and real-time deals from nearby stores.
4. Send holiday greetings to an inbox instead of a mailbox. Consider sending holiday e-cards that are either free or very inexpensive. There are some websites offering e-cards that can be customized with your own photo, some that play music or a short video when the e-card is opened, and some that have simple interactive games in the e-card.
5. Turn your smartphone into a virtual shopping assistant. Websites like ShoppingNotes.com and the smartphone mobile app, ShopAdvisor, will monitor online stores and retailers for an item that you want, send you alerts as prices drop and tells you where you can purchase the item.