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How to Save Money This Holiday Shopping Season

Shopping-Budget
New technology can help you keep track of your expenses while shopping. (Andres Rodriguez – Fotolia.com)

Saving money while holiday shopping may sound impossible, but you don’t need to be a Scrooge to budget. Through smart strategizing, you can find the perfect gift for friends and family and keep your wallet intact.

Here are some tips to give you a leg up on your New Year’s financial resolutions:

Just Say No

When it comes to purchasing warranties, there are times you can just say no. Refusing extended warranties doesn’t strip you of all protection. Reputable manufacturers will back products for three to six months and some credit cards extend or even double manufacturers’ warranties. If you do purchase a warranty, be sure the terms are worth the cost.

Avoid Layaway

Layaway may sound great, but without discipline, it can be costly. If you’re using a credit card to make small payments on your layaway purchase, and you don’t pay your balance in full, you may ultimately pay both a layaway fee and interest on your credit card. And if you cancel the purchase, you could pay an additional fee too. Stick to buying what you can afford today.

Manage Your Money

If you have trouble sticking to your shopping budget, consider using tools to help keep you honest. Traditional financial software programs, which help you set budgets and manage money, are now providing access from mobile devices. For example, Quicken 2013’s free iPhone, iPad and Android apps allow you to securely manage your money, view up-to-date information about your accounts and check your budgets, encouraging you to make sound financial decisions in real-time.

“Consumers who go into debt from holiday shopping often do so because they are unaware of what they have in their bank accounts and are spending unmindfully,” warns Aaron Patzer, VP of Innovation at Intuit. “Tracking your budgets and spending as you go will help you stay on track.”

Know the Refund Policy

Not all stores offer refunds for returned items. When buying gifts, make sure you know a store’s policy before your purchase. Ask for a gift receipt so your friends and family can make exchanges or get refunds if necessary.

Use Gift Cards

Retailers must now honor gift cards for five years from the date of issue. So find those old gift cards, and use them toward your gift purchases, even if they have “expired.” The company can send you a new card or issue the remaining balance in cash.

DIY

Showing your friends and family you care about them should not put you in debt. If the holidays will cause an unreasonable financial burden, consider making presents. From baking to knitting, to writing your loved ones poems and thoughtful letters, homemade presents can be more meaningful than the store-bought variety.

More money management tips for the holidays can be found at Quicken.com.

By planning ahead and making informed financial decisions this holiday shopping season, you can start 2013 on the right financial foot.

[StatePoint]

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