5 tips to help holiday shoppers manage their spending

It's that time of year again. The holiday season is fast approaching, and with it comes a time of splurge spending by Americans unparalleled by any other part of the year. According to recent data from the National Retail Federation, sales - excluding the automotive, fuel and the restaurant industries - are expected to exceed $630 billion in November and December of 2015. This year's numbers mark a 3.7 percent increase over last year. As such, the retail industry intends to hire between 700,000 and 750,000 seasonal workers to manage shoppers, compared to the 714,000 needed in 2014.  

While all of this holiday cheer might be enough to make your head - and your checking account - go into a tailspin, do not fear. There are a few ways holiday shoppers can manage their spending and leave a little room for extras.

"When holiday shoppers wait until late in the season, they often miss major bargains."

1. Prepare a pre-holiday budget
When getting ready to shop for the holidays, many Americans go about the correct procedure in reverse order. Following the example of Old St. Nick, many of us will first make a list (and check it twice) of people we need to buy things for. Don't make the same mistake this season. Instead, Bankrate suggests first creating a solid holiday budget before setting foot inside of a mall.

Starting your holiday shopping with a realistic budget is the first step toward avoiding debt out of the gate in 2016. Remember to include the little things, such as the shipping cost of packages, wrapping paper, transportation costs, holiday dinners and more. Knowing where you stand financially will help eliminate holiday stress and allow you to focus more on family and friends.  

2. Get a head start on saving
This step is twofold. Not only should you start saving for the holidays as early in the year as possible, but also play to the retailer offerings accordingly. Be on the lookout for the best deals as early as possible, and you may just find that your holiday shopping is finished earlier and more efficiently than you thought possible.

Those with large families might consider putting away money throughout the year into a separate checking account opened especially for the holidays. Even just a few dollars a week, perhaps from bringing your lunch to work one more day than you normally would in the fall, could result in a nice chunk of money left over for holiday gifts. 

Also, when buying in bulk, it can be tempting to charge it all to a credit card, making it very easy to accumulate an outstanding balance unpayable the following month. This will ultimately result in costing the shopper more than they bargained for in late-payment-induced interest. Shopping early has its benefits as well. When holiday shoppers wait until later in the season, they often limit themselves to only one day of late-December spending. Shopping early gives buyers more time to bargain-hunt and buy unspecified gifts for various family members without stress or a last-minute holiday time crunch. 

"Experience more deals than ever before with the Landmark Bank Visa® Debit Card."

3. Credit deals
Digital coupons have increased in popularity and use in recent years. However, many Americans don't realize that their credit card companies and even their banks may offer savings similar to such coupons. Among the major benefits that go along with these digital coupons is that, when tied to your credit or debit card, there are no codes to scan or magazine pages to clip. According to U.S. News & World Report, card-linked offers are frequently available from many major credit companies, especially around the holiday season.

Typically, cardholders can sign up for deals easily via company websites. These campaigns are usually targeted for single-store bulk buys, and include deals such as online cash-rewards bonuses. Landmark Bank has conveniently partnered with Visa to bring you tons of discounted offers for major worldwide brands, including Kohl's, Under Armour, Ugg and Fossil. Visit Landmark Bank to learn more about credit and debit card deals offered to customers holding the Landmark Bank Visa® Debit Card.

4. Ensure guaranteed returns
If you're not 100 percent sure that someone will want or need the gift you're getting them, check with a retailer to ensure that the item in question has a guaranteed return policy. Many holiday shoppers get angry once they realize that their post-Christmas returns will not be accepted. Some retailers have a strict holiday season time limit regarding returns. If you're spending big on individual items, do yourself a favor and make sure you'll be able to return them.

For more information about smart ways to manage your finances, contact Landmark Bank.

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