To help consumers manage their finances and avoid overspending, Citizens Bank is offering shopping and spending tips for the busy holiday shopping season that will begin with Black Friday and Cyber Monday on November 23 and November 26, respectively. This year, the National Retail Federation predicts consumers will spend more than $586 billion – up 4.1 percent from last year – during the busy holiday shopping season as they purchase gifts, décor, greeting cards and other items.
“It is easy to break the family budget by getting swept up in the excitement of the holiday season,” said Ned Handy, President of Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens for Connecticut. “We encourage everyone to plan ahead and to adopt a disciplined approach to shopping that can prevent overspending and unplanned debt. And these measures will pay dividends all year long – not just during the holidays.”
To help consumers manage their money, prevent the accumulation of debt and make the most of their holiday dollars, Citizens Bank suggests the following guidelines:
Build a budget – To manage your holiday spending, an important first step is to create a realistic budget that will help you to understand how much you can afford. When you understand your spending limit and what you want versus what you have budgeted, it makes it easier to avoid impulse purchases that can saddle you with holiday debt in the New Year.
Make a list – Create a list of all of the people you would like to acknowledge during the holidays and set a spending limit for each name. Check your list against your budget and make adjustments as needed. To stay within your budget, take this list with you as you shop.
Make a donation to charity – Instead of trying to find the perfect gift, consider making a contribution in someone’s name to a local charity. Many charities gladly accept gift donations that they will use to bring warmth and good cheer to those in need during the holidays.
Write down credit and debit card information – Make a list of all your account numbers and phone numbers. Keep this list in a safe place in case your wallet is lost or stolen and you need to notify the bank or credit card company.
Comparison shop – Your money will go further if you use coupons, watch for sales, review advertised offers and compare prices at stores and online retailers. In addition to price, your comparison should include model, color, quality, availability and other factors that could easily turn your bargain into a disappointment.
Keep track as you spend – As you make purchases, keep a list of each gift and the amount you spent so that you can have a running total of all expenses. This will help you to quickly understand whether you are staying within your budget or need to make adjustments.
Start a 2013 holiday savings plan – Consider beginning an automatic savings plan for next year’s holiday shopping. Pay yourself first by automatically putting money aside in a savings account for the 2013 holiday season. Citizens Bank’s GoalTrack SavingsSM can help you create a plan, track your progress, and get rewarded when you reach your goal.