How To Budget Smart This Holiday Season – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

ByRichard C. Sloan

Nov 30, 2021

Due to product shortages and lingering supply chain issues, expect to pay more for everything from decorations to holiday gifts.

Read on for expert advice on avoiding debt and surprise charges.

Don’t wait to start shopping

April Lewis-Parks with Consolidated Credit said it helps to write down your budget for each person on your list and get started as soon as possible.

Last minute purchases can be overspending, especially when high-demand gifts can be scarce.

“When shopping, if things aren’t available, you might be forced to buy a more expensive option because you didn’t start early enough,” Lewis-Parks said.

Use curbside pickup to stay on track

Lewis-Parks said he is considering picking up curbside purchases to help you avoid impulse buying.

“When you go into the store, you see the sales and the deals and you might be prompted to spend more money than you put in your budget,” Lewis-Parks explained.

This year’s NerdWallet survey of vacation shopping found that 29% of shoppers were still paying off vacation debt from last year.

Check your card statements from last year. Calculate what you’ve spent on interest charges and adjust your budget to avoid going into debt this year.

Also consider giving a gift or offering quality time with loved ones rather than spending money on a gift or gift card.

“It’s not always about the money, it’s about the thought. This year above the other years, put your heart and soul in it. Forget about spending money and be creative.” , said Lewis-Parks.

Questions to ask if using a buy now, pay later option

You may have seen the buy now, pay later option when checking out.

Buying now, paying later can be a way to spread the cost of a purchase over time – often in four installments.

This is a point-of-sale loan that the consumer takes out from a third-party financial service. Unlike a layaway agreement with a retailer, the consumer takes the purchase home immediately and then pays the balance.

“I think a lot of people, the thing that surprises them the most is that I invited another financial company into the room with me,” said Chuck Bell, program director in the Advocacy division of Consumer Reports. .

Bell said if you are considering the option to buy now, pay later, don’t just click on the information. Read the fine print.

“It’s really important for any point-of-sale loan that you use or the apps you use to really understand the rules of that particular app or program,” Bell said. “They can have different interest charges, different late fees, they can send your unpaid bills to a collection agent.”

If you need to return an item, Bell said the retailer notifies the service buy now, pay later. This means that you can continue to make payments on an item that you no longer have.

“Sometimes consumers have filed complaints saying it’s hard to get credit for the item I returned to the store,” Bell said. “They’ve already taken my second and third payments.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also explains that the buy now, pay later option does not offer the same protection against litigation as a credit card.

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