Looking to take the stress out of your holiday shopping this season?
Planning ahead and taking steps to protect yourself and your purchases can relieve a lot of shopping-induced stress, according to Jeff Unterreiner, a senior vice president with Assurant Solutions.
"While it's easy to get overwhelmed by holiday shopping, the good news is that it only takes a few basic steps to make the process easier on your pocketbook and your peace of mind," said Unterreiner.
Unterreiner offered these tips to help ensure your shopping this Christmas season is hassle-free:
The easiest way to overspend is to approach your shopping without a budget. Determine ahead of time what you can afford to spend overall, and make sure the gifts on your list fit within your means. A smart strategy: leave yourself a little padding to accommodate potential budget-busting treasures you discover along the way.
Start your shopping well ahead of Christmas to spare yourself the headache of unending lines and sold out shelves. Doing so can also help you save money. Starting earlier will give you more time to look for sales and promotions. When it comes to larger purchases, be sure you know the return policy and keep an eye on sales even after you buy. If the item is offered for a lower price within a certain timeframe, you may be able to get the difference refunded.
Take advantage of the many reward cards and incentive programs that let you earn cash back, goods and discounts. The holiday season is a great time to sign up, as many retailers offer bonus programs and extra perks for shoppers. In some cases those rewards can be used immediately to trim your shopping budget or find something nice for yourself as a reward for being a savvy shopper.
Many of the most-wanted gifts this season, like electronics and jewelry, are also the easiest to break or lose. Ensure your gifts keep giving long into the future by protecting your purchases with extended service plans, such as those offered by Assurant Solutions. These plans offer a range of protection from things like mechanical breakdown, accidental damage, loss and theft, as well as services such as tech support. And this protection can last long after the manufacturer's warranty expires.
The frenzy of the Christmas season can make you vulnerable to theft. Be sure you're using a debit or credit card that offers protection in the event of unauthorized purchases. If you don't already, now is also an ideal time to pay closer attention to your transaction log so you can quickly address any unfamiliar charges.
For more ideas to help take the stress out of holiday shopping, visit consumerview.assurantsolutions.com.
A smart shopping plan begins with a budget. Decide what you're willing to spend on all holiday-related items, including travel, decorations and holiday meals. A budget will keep you disciplined and ensure you have enough money to pay your bills come January.
Focus your gift giving on what the person will like the most, not on the amount you think you should spend on that person. The best gift might not be the most expensive one; it's truly the thought that counts.
The most wanted gifts this season - electronics and jewelry - also are the most vulnerable to breakage and theft. Including an extended protection plan will ensure your gift keeps on giving for a long time to come. You can buy one at the checkout or from a third party like Assurant Solutions, which offers plans on Amazon.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.