This time of year, millions of people ignore their financial common sense and take part in the phenomenon known as Black Friday. The problem with this practice is a mailbox full of credit card statements in January. Here are some holiday shopping tips.

1. Determine a Spending Plan

Figure out the total amount you can afford to spend over the holidays. Don’t just take into account Christmas presents – also consider how much you’ll spend on food, decorations, parties, holiday events, etc. Be realistic and set reasonable expectations with your family. You don’t want to find yourself in the midst of Christmas next year still paying for the things you bought this season! Once you’ve determined how much you’ll spend on gifts, you can divide that amount by the number of people you’re buying for. Now you know how much you can afford to spend on each person.

2. Determine a Shopping Plan

Now that you know how much you can spend, you can start figuring out what you want to buy. Use deal websites like bfads.net and retailmenot.com to find the best deals. If you don’t know have specific items in mind, some sites many sites will allow you to sort by price. The weekend of Black Friday you’ll be sure to find lots of steals in the $10 or less category!

3. Don’t shop for yourself!

The National Retail Federal recently determined that the average consumer spends 18% of their holiday budget on themselves. It can be difficult to curb spending impulses as you shop for everyone else, but if you can prevent yourself from buying for yourself, you’ll likely save quite a bit of money!

4. Use gift cards

Do you have any gift cards lying around that you’ve never used? Perhaps they’re for stores you seldom frequent? Use them to buy presents for others! That store you never shop at could be a favorite of a certain friend or family member.

For help constructing a workable holiday budget, or to discover how to pay off existing debt contact Center For Siouxland at 712-252-1861 ext. 47. WE CAN HELP! Happy Holidays.