Christmas is around the corner, and with Black Friday behind us you might need to up your game if you’re not done with your list.
But before you rush to the store or add something to your cart online, now’s the perfect time to think about some of the biggest mistakes that you should avoid this season. Maybe think about making some homemade Christmas gifts this year.
Whether you’ve already completed your shopping, or still have a lot to do, these five mistakes could make for a blue Christmas if you’re not careful.
1. Going into debt for a good deal.
I’m fully aware that WalMart is practically giving away flat screen TVs, but a good deal doesn’t justify going into debt. Financing a TV through a credit card can really add up, so your best bet is to make sure you have the money for it first.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy using credit cards for the perks but I’d only recommend doing this if you can pay off the balance at the end of the month. Keep debt out from under the tree this year.
2. Ignoring the budget.
I hope you’ve set your Christmas budget and follow it this year. We usually keep our budget on Mint.com because it’s easy, but sometimes it’s just nice to see it on paper.
One sure way to stick to the budget is to use cash and to put each person’s gift money into an envelope. Yes, it takes a little longer, but if you’re strapped for cash as it is, this will keep you from pulling out the credit card to pay for it throughout the year – a mistake we know to avoid!
For those who feel like Christmas sneaks up each year, try automating a Christmas budget. Many small banks and credit unions still have Christmas savings accounts that draw a few dollars from your checking account automatically.
It’s worth checking into so that you’re better prepared for next year! You can even invest your savings through the year by using Betterment to automate your investment.
3. Getting the warranty.
I have mixed feelings about warranties, but most of the time I choose not to get the warranty. Most electronics and high dollar items will already have a manufacturer’s warranty, so if breaks, you’re already covered.
Signing up for extra warranties on your computer, TV or printer may sound wise, but think through it before you commit to an extra $49 warranty at the register.
We purchased a TV one year and passed on the warranty. When we brought it home, it didn’t work. Talk about disappointment! We didn’t need a warranty to exchange it to for a new TV because it was covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.
If you’re afraid your kids will break something expensive or if you’re generally clumsy, purchasing a warranty might give you peace of mind and could pay off for you.
The chance of you using the warranty is less than you would expect – but the fear of being ‘the one’ to need it often drives people to purchase expensive. Do your research and don’t let fear drive you to buy a warranty at the register. Often times you can add a warranty later when you’ve done some research.
4. Not understanding return policies.
You’re probably aware of most return policies, but is your gift recipient aware of their options for returning a gift? Make sure you get a gift receipt and tell the person to return the item promptly if they want to exchange it.
Holiday Policies at WalMart
WalMart generally allows you to return an item 90 days after you’ve purchased it, but has 15 day and 30 day rules for certain purchases (including: electronics, video games, lawn equipment, power tools).
If you buy an item with a 15 or 30-day return window, WalMart is extending the start date of the return clock to begin on December 26, giving the recipient adequate time to return an item.
5. Defaulting to a gift card.
Sometimes a gift card is nice, especially since you can buy what you want. But the downside to giving a gift card is that you might be passing up some great deals that the recipient wouldn’t get after the holidays.
There are two sides to this dilemma because after-Christmas sales can mean great deals for someone with a gift card, but just make sure that the gift card is to a place they’ll enjoy shopping at.
But before you spend face value for that gift card, make sure you check out sites to find discounted gift cards.
What are your thoughts about these mistakes? How do you plan on avoiding them this Christmas?