It’s that time of year again. Shoppers around the country say they are planning to spend an average of $929 for gifts this holiday season, up from $882 last year, according to a survey on holiday spending from the American Research Group.
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Planned gift spending for 2016 is $47 above spending in 2015, and it is the first time it exceeds $900 since 2006, according to the research.
For many, holiday shopping is like riding a see-saw between excitement and anxiety. But, according to personal finance experts, there are ways to avoid the stress lane. Here are some Black Friday shopping dos and don’ts.
Make sure you can afford it
“There are many people who are living paycheck to paycheck who can't afford to pay their basic necessities comfortably but still figure out a way to go shopping on Black Friday. Don't! Make sure that if you are going shopping on Black Friday that you are not behind on any bills and you are not using your credit cards to finance your splurging,” said Ash Exantus, financial empowerment coach at BankMobile.
Have a plan (Use a list)
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What do you need? Write it down.
“Black Friday will have many deals including that 75% off of _______________ (insert the name of something you'll probably never use), but the key is to stick to your list because any money spent on something you didn't really want or need becomes money wasted -- no matter how much you think you're saving,” said Exantus.
Set a hard budget
“Start by plugging in your normal monthly expenses, like gas, utilities, insurance and groceries. Then take a closer look at your flexible spending budget groups, like dining out and fun money,” said money expert Dave Ramsey. “If you typically spend $300 on restaurants in a month, why not cook a few extra meals at home and divert an extra $200 toward Christmas savings? Or, if your personal money is partying it up at $150 a month, why not hold off (temporarily) and put an extra $100 into your Christmas stash?”
"Once you have your budgeted amount of money, stay away from credit cards. You will still spend 12-18% more if you use plastic, and you’ll be paying it off come next year,” said Ramsey.
Control your emotions
“Shopping, especially on Black Friday, is psychological warfare. You are literally in a battle between you and your pockets vs. retailers and marketers,” said Exantus. “They know that many can't resist deep discounts that's why you MUST be psychologically ready to say no and close a blind eye to what is not on your list, what you can't afford, and what you can't buy with cash.”