Did you know that approximately 47 per cent of Albertans overspent during the holidays in 2016?* For shoppers looking for ways to cut costs without compromising their holiday wish list, BBB says that with some planning, research and budgeting, those sought after items can be yours without the stress of buyer's remorse.
"Plan your budget ahead of time so you know your spending limits before heading out to the malls or shopping online," says Mary O'Sullivan-Andersen, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. "It's easy to get caught up in the joy of giving, but you don't want to be faced with the stress of financial debt when times are already tough. The earlier you plan, research and clearly outline your budget, the less stressful, and costly, your holidays will be."
Be a calculated gift-giver this holiday season with these BBB tips:
The earlier you start your holiday planning, the better. When consumers are short on time, they have less flexibility and can't shop around as much. Look for deals early in the year, and don't be afraid to buy gifts far in advance and store them somewhere at home until the holiday season approaches. Just be sure to ask if gifts purchased ahead can be returned if they don't work for the recipient.
- Become an expert on big ticket items
If you are considering a high-dollar purchase for a loved one, it's important to become an "expert" on the item. Maybe one product is made with higher quality materials, or maybe it offers an extra warranty. Whatever the case, you can make the best decision by doing thorough research into the product and its different models.
- Use reward points and online shopping
Look for unique opportunities to save on items. This means regularly checking online for sales and deals and making the most of any rewards points you have accrued. Rewards points are a great way to fund gifts, as they aren't really "costing" you. Read the fine print and make sure such gifts are transferable and, if needed, returnable.
Layaway purchase plans are appealing to budget-conscious shoppers during the holidays because they allow consumers to pay for their items in installments rather than one lump sum. Ask the company for a written contract of the layaway plan, which should include: payment dates, late payment policies, refund and cancellation policies.
- Check out sharing communities
Digital apps, online bulletin boards and social media can be great tools when finding gifts on a budget. You can find brand new or gently used items like books, movies, electronics, clothing and more for a fraction of retail prices. Be sure to meet with the seller in person if you can to inspect the item prior to purchasing. Check out the seller's reputation and identity. Remember you might not be able to return the item, or if you can, you might have to pay postage fees if the seller isn't local.