Simple ways to get your budget on track this holiday season

(BPT) – Americans will have lots to celebrate this holiday season, with unemployment rates at an all-time low and consumer confidence on the rise. According to The Annual Retail Sales Forecast for the Holiday Season from Deloitte, retailers have their sights on sales of more than $1.1 trillion.

We all get caught up in the spirit of giving, yet the most wonderful time of year is also one of the most stressful financially. But holiday spending doesn’t have to break the bank — a little planning can let you enjoy and be merry.

Here’s a checklist to get started:

Budget for big purchases

* Credit cards: Divide up the big-ticket items. Buy them across several off-season months and pay your balance in full.

* Free shipping: Some online retailers offer free shipping with orders over a certain amount. In late December, some retailers have been known to offer free shipping days with guaranteed delivery by Christmas.

* Delayed financing: Look for store credit card promotions that offer low interest rates or delayed financing on large purchases. Pay it down over time without incurring interest.

* Online tools: Struggling to budget alone? Explore online services like Nummo, which can help you consolidate your accounts and keep track of your finances.

Save with coupons and deals

* Save: There’s always the old-fashioned way of saving a little money each month throughout the year, and then spending what you’ve saved. Or save in advance for the more expensive items.

* Credit cards: Redeem credit card points for gift cards you can use for your holiday shopping; alternatively, offer up specific store gift cards as a present.

* Delayed offers: Retailers are tracking what you do online, and often if you leave something in your shopping cart, the retailer will come back with a reminder followed by a discounted offer.

* In-store shopping days: Black Friday has always been a big shopping day, so you might want to ask your favorite retailers what they have planned ahead of time. Some big-box retailers begin their Black Friday promotions on the Wednesday before, with extended store hours, and might even be open on Thanksgiving. Also, don’t forget to shop local on Small Business Saturday — your favorites stores may have the best bargains yet.

* Online shopping days: Online retailers offer significant discounts on days like Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday.

Buy now, pay later

* Credit card rates: If you are going to apply for a new card, check introductory offers for rates, balance transfer opportunities and delayed financing options.

* Store credit cards: Often when you open a card at checkout, you receive a discount on your entire purchase. Store cards also offer coupons and deals throughout the holiday season if you use your store credit card. That said, make sure not to keep a balance for long, as store credit cards can have higher interest rates.

Holiday spending still causing you stress? The experts at Nummo can help you manage, maintain and improve your financial health for the holidays and beyond.

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