4 Easy Steps to Stress-Free Holiday Shopping

Christmas Tree and stockings

‘Tis almost the season to begin holiday shopping.

Believe it or not, Christmas is less than 3 months away.  You may have already seen stores decorated for the holidays and hawking holiday presents.  Like it or not, the time has come to part with your cash and buy your loved ones some gifts.

Once you get over the initial difficulty of deciding who to buy for, you must then decide how much to spend and what to buy.  Before you head out to the stores, take the time to plan in advance.  This can save you headaches (and money) later down the road.

How Will You Pay?

Financial gurus will have you believe that it’s best to pay by debit card or cash because doing so helps you stick to a budget.  After all, once the money is gone, it’s gone, so you can’t overspend.

While that is a valid argument, I’d suggest using credit instead for one very important reason.  Your purchases are protected.  A site like Totallymoney.com explains it completely, but in general, if you buy something that breaks during shipping or never arrives at its destination, for example, you can get your money back.  Your credit card will reimburse you that expense. If you use your credit card, it can also help protect any purchases over £100 if something were to go wrong, because it’s protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

If you carefully spend and are mindful of your holiday budget while making your purchases, buying with a credit card over other methods is always the clear winner for this feature alone.

Know Your Rewards Program

Since you’re likely going to use your credit card for purchase protection, you might as well get something back for your effort.  If you don’t know already, learn what cards give you what rewards.  Learn the best ways to maximize the points you earn.

Then, when you do all of that holiday shopping, come January or February, you’ll get something back, like a free flight to a warm tropical destination. . .

Know the Return Policy

Inevitably, there’s one member of the family (or more), who will dislike everything you buy her and want to return it.  Therefore, make sure you keep your receipts and are familiar with the store’s return policy.  If the store only has a 90 day return window, don’t do your shopping before, say, September 26th, or your gift recipient may not be able to return the purchase.

I learned the hard way not to shop for my mom until after Thanksgiving for precisely this reason.

Know Your Limit

While you may want to purchase gifts for everyone who touches your life from your parents to your son’s babysitter to the mailman, you won’t be able to do everything for everyone.  Be mindful of your budget.  Don’t overspend.  There’s nothing worse than facing a pile of holiday bills in January.   Do the best that you can and accept that it’s good enough.

While many people dread the holiday shopping season, following these tips, you can be sure that your purchases will be protected, you stay within your budget, and you get something back for your gift giving generosity.

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