With budgets tighter than ever, it's more important to have a financial plan in place before you hit the stores. Patricia Cutilletta, a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management shares her top tips.
1. Have a plan and stick with it. Don't get caught up in the moment!
2. Make a list of people you're buying for, and set a realistic budget.
3. Pare your list. Do you really need to buy for each of your cousins? Many people care much more about the thought – such as a card and photo with a personal note – than they care about a gift.
4. If you come from a big family, why not initiate a grab bag of names so each person only has to buy for one?
5. If shopping on Black Friday, consider only using cash as a means of self-discipline. . . charging is too easy.
6. If you're going to use credit cards, carry only one. If it currently has a balance, pay it down (or better, pay it off) now.
7. Beware of unrealistic pricing. If the price looks too good to be true, it may not be the quality you're expecting.
8. Be careful with enticements such as 20% off if you'll open a store credit card. You probably do NOT need that credit card.
9. Make sure there is a return/exchange policy liberal enough to be useable and that you know what it is.
10. What about homemade gifts? i.e. pumpkin bread, cookies. Again, it's the thought.
11. Make your own gift baskets. It's much less expensive to buy a basket and fill it with cheeses and wine you select than to order one pre-made.
12. From a safety perspective, always – but especially on a day like Black Friday – carry only what you really need in your purse or wallet. Ladies, don't walk around with a shoulder bag gaping open. . . you don't know who is behind you. Men, put your wallet in a front pocket.
13. When going into a revolving door, put your purse in front of you so it cannot be pulled into the door segment behind you.
14. Keep your receipts and match them against your credit card as soon as the bill arrives
15. Be cautious, and safe, in big crowds. . . being first in the door is NOT necessary.