Saturday, November 19, 2011

Holiday shopping season - 7 tips to beat buyer's remorse

SENDER: "Dominguez, Robert"

It's easy to overspend when you’re caught up in the spirit of holiday shopping.

It’s even easier to do so without a budget in place, and come January, when the rent is due and credit card bills start piling up, you’ll be suffering from more than a hangover.

This can easily be avoided, though. Not only should you evaluate your finances and assign a strict budget for spending on gifts and seasonal extras, you should learn to avoid common purchase pitfalls that land many shoppers in holiday-buying remorse.

1) Tempting sales signs that lead to impulse buys

Just as important as a budget is knowing what you plan to buy every time you enter a store. This will keep you from overspending on unnecessary items.

Make a list and go over it twice before checking out, to avoid impulse buys. Don’t let sale signs tempt you into spending more than you planned.

2 )Overlooking return/exchange policies

When the shopping gets going, we forget to read return and exchange policies, which can lead to sticky situations and a waste of money.

While some stores extend their return-policy period, most require a gift receipt and may only allow in-store exchanges.

There are also retailers that charge a restocking fee, so it’s always important to read or ask a sales clerk about the return policies before making a purchase.

3) Falling for misleading markdowns

Some retailers have been known to inflate original prices of merchandise to make markdowns look like a better value. Do your homework and research prices of specific goods you plan to buy so you don’t get fooled by false discounts.

4) Missing coupons

Retailers release coupons throughout the holiday season. Be sure not to overlook added discounts, be they from circulars, social media and even your mobile device.

Download CouponSherpa’s free mobile coupon app to get in-store coupons on your phone so you never miss out.

5) Not pricing the competition

Retailers are in fierce competition mode, which means they’re fighting for sales and using various gimmicks to win you over.

Stores have beefed up price-matching policies and some, like Sears and Home Depot, not only guarantee to match the lower price at another store, they will give you an added 10% off.

Though this is great for saving money, you need to do your homework, otherwise you could end up overpaying for an item that’s cheaper next door.

6) Don’t assume discounts are applied

Many retailers hire seasonal sale clerks to help with the holiday shopping rush. Many may not be ready to take on the masses, and checkout mistakes can occur.

Always review your receipt to ensure discounts were applied so that you don’t overspend.

7) Filling up on cheap checkout-aisle extras

There’s a reason checkout aisles are stocked with cheap goods: It’s the retailer’s last chance to get you to spend more before leaving the store.

Those inexpensive items are much more tempting when priced under $10. During busy shopping days, many shoppers sift through the stash while waiting in long lines.

However, purchasing a few of such extras at every store is a quick way to rachet up your holiday bill. 

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