Need some holiday spending tips? With Black Friday underway -- and with Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and even "Mobile Tuesday" just around the corner -- the holiday season beckons shoppers with deals galore.
Before you gas up your car or power on your laptop, though, here are seven tips to help keep your holiday spending in check:
Start early. By starting early, you can beat the stress that often accompanies waiting until the last minute. Not only that, but you get your pick of the crop instead of having to opt for what's left at the end of the holiday season, which could end up being more expensive than you'd anticipated.
Set a budget for yourself. It's always best to know what you're getting yourself into. Setting a budget will help you gauge how and when you should spend, and make sure you stick to the confines of your finances. Creating a spending plan also ensures that you don't end up buying excess things.
Collect coupons. Always be on the lookout for discounts, both offline and online, especially during the holidays when there will likely be tons of deals available.
Cut back on buying gifts. Remember, it's usually the thought that counts -- you don't necessarily need to be extravagant. You can also consider alternatives to buying gifts, such as making them yourself (if you're crafty) or cooking a delicious meal (if you're a good cook).
Keep track of all of your receipts. Make sure that you keep all your receipts -- they can serve as a reminder of just how much you've already spent this holiday season. And of course, you'll need them for those inevitable returns -- you never know what you'll end up needing or not needing.
Be wary about payday loans and check cashing. It may seem tempting to take out a payday loan to pay for your holiday gifts, but be careful -- in fact, they may not even be permitted in your state. Not only could you accrue an absurdly high level of interest (even up to 400 percent) and run the risk of defaulting, but in turn your credit score could take a hit.
Use cash or debit cards. Using cash and debit cards ensures that once you purchase something, it's already paid for and out of your bank account. This will help you get a better idea of your finances and help you avoid high interest rates and fees.