Shoppers have 3 days to check off items on their gift lists, and the pressure is on for those procrastinators. But here are tips on how to avoid the panicky pitfalls that can blow a holiday budget.
If you thought Black Friday was the biggest shopping day of the year, think again. Monday and Tuesday are two of the top ten shopping days of the holiday season according to retail research firm Shopper-Trak. A time crunch plus crowds can lead to impulse purchases.
"The last thing you want to do is panic and go out on a spending spree and buy things that are outside your budget. You could still be paying for these things next summer, and that would be a depressing state to be in," says personal finance expert Beverly Harzog.
She adds it's never too late to chart a holiday shopping budget. Just do it before hitting the mall.
"Shop online, and do some research, and you'll be able to find the best prices and compare prices and compare stores without ever having to leave your home," Herzog says.
You might even want to complete your purchases online. Just make sure to pick a retailer with an in-store pickup option. And consider the long-term consequences of those quick impulse purchases.
"Keep in mind that if you do go over-budget, you are going to be paying for this for months. It could even impact family vacation next summer. So just try to think ahead and try to stay within parameters," she says.
Because holiday debt isn't only about an item's price tag. It's about interest payments too.
Six Rookie Mistakes last minute shoppers often make:
Last Minute gifts that won't break the bank: