While retailers are busy trying to stimulate enough holiday sales to put them into the black financially, consumers are dreaming of a black Christmas, one that keeps them in the black on their personal ledger sheet. Although Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending tempted millions of shoppers to part with some cash, or at least pull out the plastic, many have now not only returned to financial reality, but have also returned their purchases.
According to the November poll hosted on the NFCC’s website, 40% of shoppers intend to spend zero on holiday purchases, while 51 percent plan on cutting back on what they spent last year. The NFCC poll strongly indicates how seriously consumers are taking their financial situation, and are committed to putting their financial lives in order, even if it means scaling back on holiday purchases.
The NFCC offers the following last-minute tips to help consumers avoid buyer’s remorse, whether that guilt comes a few days after shopping, resulting in returning the purchases, or in January when the bills start arriving.
- Don’t make impulse purchases. Resist the temptation to buy anything just to be able to mark it off your list. A thoughtless gift isn’t worth the paper it’s wrapped in.
- Make your shopping trips short by having a shopping strategy. Know what you want, where you’re going to get it, and how much you’re going to spend. Your goal is to get in and get out of the stores, thus limiting the temptation to spend.
- While shopping, take frequent breaks and track your spending. Staying on budget equals staying in the black.
- Resist paying steep rush shipping charges. It’s better to find an alternative gift than to spend as much in shipping as you did on the gift.
- If you can’t find the right gift, know that a gift card always fits. Further, the recipient can use it during the steep after-Christmas sales and maximize the value.
Play it safe and inquire about the return policy before you buy. If the store offers a gift receipt, be sure to include it with the package, thus making a return much simpler.
Gail Cunningham is Vice President of Membership & Public Relations with the NFCC.
Views expressed are the personal views of the author, and do not represent the views of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, its employees, its members, or its clients.