Your holiday shopping game plan starts with a budget

Finance

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Don’t let holiday shopping leave a lump of coal in your financial future!

CPA Dave Young of the New York State Society of CPAs discussed the best-practices you should adopt before starting your holiday shopping Thursday during News 8 at Sunrise. Here they are:

  1. Give yourself a financial checkup – By answering questions about your budget, savings, home expenses, and retirement, you’ll have a better understanding of where you stand.
  1. Make a Christmas budget before you start spending – Review your receipts and bills from last year. This will give you an idea of the amount you actually spent and how long it took to pay for all of it. Decide how much you can spend this year. *Shop local if possible. Due to COVID-19 small businesses are suffering. Make a complete gift list so you can decide who will get what. For each person, set a firm “no more than” purchase price for that gift. Don’t forget to factor the extras — things like gas and greeting card expenses — into your holiday budget. Set expectations with family members, especially children.
  1. Use cash, not credit if possible – Use an envelope system. When the money’s gone, it’s gone!
  1. If you don’t use cash, check your overdraft protection and credit card balances – Make sure you have enough funds in your checking, savings, or money market account so you don’t overdraft and incur unnecessary fees. These can really add up. Linking your debit card and savings account as overdraft protection can avoid costly fees in case of an overage. If you’re trying to pay down debt, try to avoid using credit cards altogether or limit yourself to one card.
  1. Make the gifts meaningful rather than expensive.
  2. Check your emotions at the store door.
  3. Know the store’s return policies before you buy – Because sales help is often transient during the holiday season, and temporary employees may not be fully informed of store policies, ask the clerk to write the refund policy on the receipt if it’s not printed there.
  1. Avoid buying unnecessary warranties – Resist the pressure to buy an extended warranty or service contract for most products. Extended warranties often duplicate the product’s existing warranty and are rarely worth the extra cost. Keep records of all your purchases.
  1. To make sure you stay on track, keep all sales receipts – Receipts will also come in handy when monitoring your credit card statements. It’s nice to get a gift receipt for your recipients, too — they’ll enjoy the gift even more if they can trade it in for something that fits or suits them better.

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