"Woman spending during the holidays"The holidays can be a wonderful time of togetherness and celebration . . . but they can also be a time of stress and anxiety. When you’re out shopping this year, don’t let the rush and excitement of the season cause you to overspend or be careless with your money and purchases. Here are a few suggestions that may help:

Don’t buy things that people don’t want. The biggest waste of money is buying something for someone that ends up on the floor of their closet or stuck on a shelf in the garage. Always remember that gift giving is about someone else’s wants and needs, and whether you like a certain item isn’t always relevant.

In cases where you’re just not sure what to get, consider a gift card or gift certificate. A gift card makes a great gift for babysitters, newspaper carriers, doormen, teachers, and others. They are a perfect way to make sure the recipient gets what they want and a great way to stick to a budget. Caveats: buy gift cards from reputable suppliers, make sure the cards have no associated fees or expiration date, and make sure that any security code or redemption number on the card is unexposed.

Don’t wait until the last minute to do your shopping. Many retailers will have limited inventory this year because of the economy. Waiting too long to make your purchase may significantly limit your choices.

Spread out holiday purchases throughout the year – or at least throughout the holiday season. Last minute shopping often results in unnecessary purchases, and getting caught in the “holiday rush” makes it more difficult to stay committed to a budget.

The sooner you know what you want to buy, the sooner you can start looking for ways to save money. Become diligent about checking weekly newspaper ads and flyers. Sign up to receive emails from your favorite retailers, regularly check their websites for special offers, and use the Internet to comparison shop. The more legwork you do from home, the more time, money, and gas you will save.

If you get your holiday shopping done early, BE CAREFUL! Just because you’re finished shopping doesn’t mean that you won’t continue to be inundated with holiday ads from retailers. Avoid the temptation to keep buying all those deals that are “too good to pass up.” If you do end up buying something, be prepared to take something else back.

Watch your personal belongings at all times when you’re out shopping – this includes handbags and shopping bags. Be particularly careful at the register when you can get easily distracted making your purchases.

Keep cash in a safe place while shopping, and pull out of your wallet or purse only the amount you need to make a purchase.

Keep all purchased items in the trunk of the car or otherwise out of sight. And whenever possible, park near a light if you know it will be dark by the time you are done shopping.

Before you leave home, make sure you write down all important credit card information and put it someplace safe. This includes the account number and the customer service phone number on the back of the card. One easy way to do this is to make a photocopy of the front and back of each card. If a card is lost or stolen while you’re shopping, report it immediately.

Make sure you keep all receipts from credit or debit card purchases. As your credit card and bank statements arrive after the holidays, compare them to your saved receipts. If you see any errors, promptly dispute the charges or debits.

Have fun shopping, and here’s hoping that you and your family have a safe and happy holiday season.


Paul Vazquez lives in Florida with his wife and four children. He is the Director of Media Relations at Keycode.com , an online discount and promotion code company.

This article is excerpted from the Holiday Gift Guide for 2011 . Be sure and check it out and read other articles about the holidays. It’s also great to add to your online shopping experience! While you are at it check out Celebrate Age a perfect stocking stuffer! And for the person who has everything, buy them a domain name at WECAIDomains.com!

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