With the holidays just around the corner and two of the biggest shopping days ahead — Black Friday and Cyber Monday — now is a good time to reinforce good spending habits during this shopping-intensive time of year. In particular, if you’re worried about finances from a job loss or reduced income, now is not the time to give into temptation or outside pressures to spend lots of money. Here are a few steps you can take to shop responsibly and help maintain your credit.
- Purchase sales items ONLY if you need them
It’s very easy to convince yourself you need a new Bluetooth speaker or set of earbuds when they’re heavily discounted – but if you don’t absolutely need something then just remember: buying an item on sale does not equal saving money. If you’re spending money you’re not saving, period. Don’t be lured to high-cost items you don’t need, even when prices are low. Chances are they’ll be available at that price again – and even if they aren’t, your long-term saving plan is more important than the instant gratification of buying something cool.
- Research all your options
An amazing deal at one retailer may be an even better deal at another retailer so be sure to do your research to make sure you’re getting the absolute best deal possible. Just doing a simple Google search for an item will help you see what it’s selling for at different stores. And don’t forget to look at each store’s return policy. A lower price at a store that doesn’t accept returns or won’t give you a full refund may not be worth the risk.
- Avoid new credit card offers
It may be tempting to apply for a new credit card to pay for your holiday gifts, especially if the store offers rewards and other incentives, but that’s a good way to potentially degrade your credit and increase your debt. If you need a new credit card to pay for something then you can’t afford to buy it. When you’re shopping online you’ll need to use a credit card but you don’t want to charge more than you can pay off on the next statement.
- Gift yourself with good credit
If you’re working to build credit or have worked hard to raise your score, consider that a tremendous gift to yourself that is far more valuable than any material item you purchase. Don’t lose sight of your long-term goals and give in to temptation to have something that’s all the rage. Remember that whether it’s your credit score or your bank account balance, seeing a higher number continue to grow is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and will pay off in the future.