GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Beginning as early as Thanksgiving shoppers will be out in masses to kick-off the holiday shopping season.
But even with the great deals being advertised this black Friday, the frenzy doesn't mean you should leave your wallet in the red.
Financial advisor, Dan Ament, with Morgan Stanley has some tips to avoid those spending traps.
Holiday Shopping ~ Tips and traps
Make a spending plan - A common trap during holiday shopping is not planning in advance who, what, and how much are you going to spend. Make a list of absolutely everyone you need to buy for and how much you plan to spend on them before visiting any store. You will be surprised how quickly the dollars add up. If you complete this task before you begin shopping you will be less likely to outspend your resources.
Reduce the stress - Shop early to avoid the last minute rush which typically means unplanned and over budget purchases.
Put your phone or tablet to work! - Plenty of smartphone and tablet apps can save you money, but many more can also save you time - and during the holiday season, time is money. Here are some apps from a recent Consumer Reports article to help organize, shop and track your holiday shopping this season.
The dangers of credit - Paying for your purchases using a credit card may offer convenience but beware of the pitfalls to your financial picture if you don't pay those balances off in a timely manner. Higher interest rates lengthen your ability to pay off balances more quickly. Making "minimum" card payments can stretch out your repayment schedule to years, not months. In addition, a late payment can adversely affect your credit.
Example: $1,000 balance @ 15%. Minimum payment of 2.5% / Min dollar amt $25 > It will take you 56 months to pay off your debt and you will have paid $395 in interest charges.
Keep good records - You will need receipts for returns and exchanges. Review your credit and debit card statements for accuracy. The holiday season witnesses a dramatic increase in card activity. Ensure yours is correct.
Don't forget your favorite non-profits in your budget this holiday season. It is a great time of year to give thanks and help those in need.
Wishing you a joyous holiday season!
(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)