It’s the holidays. You have to buy gifts, but your bank account demands thriftiness and you need to avoid overspending. If you are one of many Americans who have been hit hard by the economy and are looking for ways to spend wisely over the holidays, here are a few suggestions, with input from a South Bay financial advisor.
Don’t Be Humble – Haggle
Buying a car or big-ticket item can do some hefty damage to your bank account. So, it is well worth finagling for a discount and being frugal with your dollars. Delbar Jahanian, a financial advisor with Waddell & Reed in Campbell, CA says, “Think of it in terms of how much you get paid by the hour. Then see if it is worth the 20 minutes to get a good discount.” Jahanian believes that “the worst that can happen is you don’t get the discount and you buy it at the listed price.” So, for the next big purchase you need to make (even if it’s online), try your hand at haggling. What can you lose?
Thrifty is Nifty
Shopping at thrift and second-hand shops is all the rage these days. There are so many different shops with vintage apparel, jewelry, used clothing and gear. What better way to spread cheer than by finding a gem or an antique to make someone’s holiday complete? Here are just a couple thrift stores in the South Bay area:
It’s a Girl Thing
860 Willow St.
San Jose, CA 95125
347 E. Campbell Ave.
Campbell, CA 95008
Saving Money: It’s not just for the Birds
Early Bird: Less procrastination leads to smarter purchasing. Giving yourself ample time to shop around for the best deals and early-bird bargains allow for more flexibility in your schedule, and will also curtail the number of price-gouging retailers you might encounter otherwise. The longer you wait, the less likely you’ll find popular wish list items which may sell out early. It’s estimated that 39 percent of shoppers start before Halloween, 40 percent start in November and 17 percent set their shopping wheels in gear the first two weeks of December. The other four percent are the extreme procrastinators. Don’t be in the four percent this year.
Killing Two Birds: If you are planning to buy the same gift for multiple people, you can sometimes get a special volume deal from retailers just for purchasing items in bulk quantities. Buying these items at one time will cut down on the amount of gas you use. It’s a win-win.
Stick to a Limit
Decide what you are going to spend for each person on your shopping list and stick to that budgeted number. Jahanian says, “Gift lists are great. Write a dollar amount next to the item and you will have a holiday budget at the same time.” Another way to keep track of the dollars you are spending on each gift might be to make a separate envelope for each person with the designated amount of cash you’ve intended to spend on them. This way, you’re not as likely to dip into cash you’ve reserved for other things. Don’t worry about having to set limits. If this is embarrassing, tell others to set the same limits when buying you gifts.
Why Pay When You Can Get it Shipped for Free?
The following stores deliver items for free: Sam Ash Direct, Puma, UGG, Guitar Center, Smashbox, Dell and many more. For a more extensive list of stores offering free shipping, go to these helpful sites: joeshopping.com, freeshipping.org. These sites will list the top bargains of the day and even help you track your packages on the site.
Saving Money: There’s an App for That
The following apps provide some of the best shopping deals, unbelievable coupon savings and last-minute discounts: Groupon, The Coupons App, LivingSocial and RetailMeNot. Shop from your phone for convenient, daily deals offered by select retailers in your area. Deals include clothing stores, computer, electronics, food and restaurants, grocery, salons and beauty services, activities, gas discounts and much more. This is a great way to receive and keep track of select, hand-picked, exclusive shopping deals all at your fingertips.
Stay off the Streets – Shop Online
Most shoppers will be doing about one third of their holiday shopping online. It’s best to learn the hottest and best online deals and sites to browse for deals and discounts. A recent electronics retailer survey listed amazon.com, bhphotovideo.com, crutchfield.com, newegg.com and pricegrabber.com as great shopping tools and apps to have.
Make Cents with Layaway
They’re back! If you need to buy with cash or want to safely hide a gift from your recipient, stores and e-retailers alike are keen on the layaway option. Since retailers collect fees which may end up being kept in the end if customers can’t afford the payments, layaway can be highly profitable. Online retailers like this option even better, since they don’t have to pay for stocking fees. A few of the popular layaway retailers include Kmart, Sears, eBay, Lay-Away.com, Layaway-Travel.com, Best Buy, Burlington Coat Factory, Babies R Us, Toys R Us, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx and Wal-Mart. Look at the layaway details with each store, including service fees, refunds, payments, cancellation fees, purchasing limits and grace periods. Most importantly, read the fine print.
Related: Best Sunglass Shops In South Bay
If you don’t have the money, don’t use your credit card. Jahanian also admonishes the use of credit cards, saying “Credit cards are evil and everyone should avoid them. No excuses.” Just by paying the minimum every month, it could take years to pay off a modest balance. People should use credit cards as charge cards, being that they should be paid off in full every month, to avoid interest charges.
The National Retail Federation reports that about 58 percent of shoppers want gift cards. If you have unused ones lying around, regift them – after checking the balance and expiration date – or buy them at a discount on sites like giftcardrescue.com, where they’re around 15 percent off for major retailers.
To reach Delbar Jahanian at Waddell & Reed, call (408) 963-2872 or visit www.delbar.wrfa.com.
Kelly Gullo is a freelance writer in San Francisco, CA. Kellys topics are about music and nightlife. Kelly has also written a variety of articles on health and dieting and topics related to the environment. Kelly has a degree in journalism and public relations from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.