Black Friday: Avoid the dreaded overspend

Bring your list -- and check it twice-- if you want to avoid buying something you can't afford.

Americans will spend $465.6 billion this holiday season. That’s a 2.8 percent increase from last year, according to the National Retail Federation. Great news for the economy, but not so great for the wallet of you, the consumer, who is spending even more.

Temptation is great: First, Black Friday door-busters, then three-day weekend sales and even Cyber Monday! If you want to reign it in this year, the credit counseling non-profit Take Charge America has put together a list of overspending pitfalls. Avoid these common blunders, and it could help you stay within your means.

1. Finding your gift inspiration at the mall. Make sure you have a plan before you hit the store. If not, you could make an impulse purchase or be more likely to shop outside your budget. It’s a good idea to check out deals online to compare and contrast before you head to the mall.

2. Putting your gifts on layaway. Layaway might seem like an attractive option at the time, but what it really means is that you probably can’t afford the gift to begin with. You’ll likely be charged fees for the luxury of paying it off in installments. Nobody wants you to go into debt over a present for them.

3. Springing for the fancy gift wrapping. All of that wrapping paper, bags and ribbons can add up to costing more than the gift did in the first place. A cheaper and more personal option? Using newspaper or letting your kids decorate white wrapping paper.

4. Hosting a gig holiday party all by yourself. Entertaining is an expensive endeavor that can easily add up to hundreds of dollars even for a small get-together. Tis the season to be jolly — not broke! If you’re dying to host, try a potluck or stick to one signature drink for the night instead of a huge variety of booze.

5. Dressing up your house like Santa’s workshop. Aside from being a bit weird, it’s also a budget buster to overdecorate your home. Use handmade decorations or trade with family and friends for a fresh look each year. When it comes to lights, remember your electric bill! Try to limit how long they’re twinkling and don’t leave them on overnight.


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