What’s a few extra dollars here or there when holiday sales offer such a banquet of deals? It can’t hurt to blow the budget once a year. After all, you won’t have to pay down those credit cards until January, right?

Wrong! No matter how caught up you get in the holiday-spending spirit, you should never compromise your budget and financial health. Here are six common ways holiday shoppers waste money, along with practical solutions to avoid such overspending.

Mistake 1: Not Comparing Prices
“The Lowest Price of the Season!” is a popular slogan for retailers as they endeavor to woo you with promises of the best deals. However, some retailers inflate prices to make discounts look better than they actually are. Before you bite, research regular prices across several retailers using sites like PriceGrabber.com.

Mistake 2: Paying for Shipping
Mid-December is fast approaching and the closer it gets, the more nervous online shoppers get about their gift orders arriving in time for Christmas. Enter Free Shipping Day; the one-day online event where over 2,000 merchants offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. Scheduled for Friday, Dec. 16, you’ll be able to find free shipping on everything from electronics to handcrafted gifts.

Mistake 3: Paying Interest on Credit Card Purchases
A recent article on Inquisitr.com reported an increase in credit card use by nearly 10 percent this year, based on findings from credit card-processing service FirstData. Though it’s especially tempting to charge purchases during the holiday season with the “buy now, pay later” mantra, refrain from throwing down the plastic and pay with cash instead. When you’re planning your budget for the new year, you’ll be happy you did.

Mistake 4: Pouncing on Daily Deals
Time is short and that incredible daily deal on knit cummerbunds might expire before you have a chance to order after work. While such deal-of-the-day offerings make for unique gifts, the urgency associated with purchasing them often leads to overspending or painfully-poor gift decisions. Take advantage of these offers only if they’re within your budget and you know the recipient will actually redeem them.

Mistake 5: Paying Full Price for Gift Cards
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, eight in ten shoppers plan to purchase gift cards this year, according to a recent report from the National Retail Federation. If you’re among those eight, avoid driving from store to store in pursuit of plastic presents and hop onto GiftCardGranny.com instead. You’ll find discount gift cards to top retailers for up to 35 percent off face value. With over 25,000 cards to choose from, you’re bound to find a card for everyone on your list.

Mistake 6: Buying for Yourself
With all the deals to be had this holiday season, it’s tempting to buy for yourself in the name of savings. Another report from the National Retail Federation indicates consumers plan to spend an average of $130 on themselves this holiday season, up 14 percent over last year. When you’re feeling tempted, imagine what an impact that extra money will make on your gift list. Only a couple more weeks of abstaining from unnecessary personal purchases and you can get back into the swing of spending on yourself.

Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured on Good Morning America, NBC Today Show, MSNBC, New York Times Bucks Blog, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. To view recent interviews or for more savings tips visit AndreaWoroch.com



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