$eason for $mart $hopping: Tips on Saving, Spending

Charter One offers tips on spending and savings to avoid post-holiday sticker shock. Build your budget and prepare now for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Charter One, a division of RBS Citizens N.A. and which has two branches in St. Charles, is offering shopping and spending tips for the holiday shopping season, which formally begins with Black Friday, Nov. 23, and Cyber Monday, Nov. 26.

The idea is to help consumers manage their finances and avoid overspending, according to a release from Charter One. In St. Charles, there is a , as well as the Charter One Bank at 1500 Lincoln Highway.

The National Retail Federation predicts the average holiday shopper will spend $749.51 on gifts, décor, greeting cards and more this season, up slightly from last year’s average of $740.57. In total, that adds up to more than $586 billion — up 4.1 percent from last year — during this holiday, the National Retail Federation reports.

“It is easy to break the family budget by getting swept up in the excitement of the holiday season,” said Scott Swanson, president of Charter One and RBS Citizens in Illinois and Michigan. “We encourage everyone to plan ahead and to adopt a disciplined approach to shopping that can prevent overspending and unplanned debt. And these measures will pay dividends all year long — not just during the holidays.”

Charter One offers these suggestions to help consumers make the most of their holiday dollars:

  • Build a budget — Creating a budget that is realistic is key and a first step to manage your holiday spending. The budget will help you understand how much you can afford. Knowing your spending limit up front and using it to weigh what you want versus what you have budgeted makes it easier to avoid impulse purchases that can saddle you with holiday debt in the New Year.
  • Make a list — Make a list of all of those you would like to acknowledge during the holidays and set a spending limit for each name. Check your list against your budget and adjust as needed. Take the list with you as you shop to stay within your budget.
  • Make a donation to charity — Consider making a contribution in someone’s name to a local charity. Many charities accept gift donations to help those in need during the holidays.
  • Use your cards responsibly — Take only one or two credit cards with you while shopping — people are more likely to overspend when carrying all their credit cards with them. Take advantage of credit card that offer rewards, keep track of what you charge, and pay your credit card bill in full each month. Debit card purchases are deducted automatically from your checking account as you make purchases.
  • Write down credit and debit card account and phone numbers — Keep this list in a safe place in case your wallet is lost or stolen and you need to notify the bank or credit card company.
  • Comparison shop — Use coupons, watch for sales, review advertised offers and compare prices at stores and online retailers. Your comparison should include model, color, quality, availability and other factors that could turn your bargain into a disappointment.
  • Keep track as you spend — As you make purchases, keep a list of each gift and the amount you spent so that you can have a running total of all expenses. This will help you to quickly understand whether you are staying within your budget or need to make adjustments.
  • Start a 2013 holiday savings plan – Consider an automatic savings plan for next year’s holiday shopping. Charter One offers its GoalTrack SavingsSM can helps you automatically put aside money in a savings account for the 2013 holiday season.


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