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It’s the most wonderful time of the year — and one of the costliest. Between buying gifts for friends and family, hosting or attending parties and traveling to see loved ones (not to mention a festive event or two for the kids), it’s easy to get carried away at the expense of your budget.
In fact, Americans are expected to spend $1,007 per person this holiday season. But while some costs can’t be avoided this time of year, there are others that absolutely should. Steer clear of these spending traps.
What Not to Buy During the Holidays
Rush shipping: You’re already spending serious money on gifts, don’t pay even more in express shipping fees. Mail all your packages by December 14 — this is the last day for guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve for ground shipments sent via USPS, FedEx and UPS.
And another reason to mark your calendar for December 14: It's Free Shipping Day. Over 200 online retailers will offer free shipping on all purchases, with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve.
Self-Gifting: As you’re scouring every online and brick-and-mortar store to find the perfect present for everyone on your list, it’s all too easy to pick up a thing or two for yourself (because it’s on sale!). But these extra purchases can add up fast. Stay on track by making a shopping list beforehand — and sticking to it.
Warranties: Stocking up on electronics this holiday season? Think twice before the salesman talks you into a pricey warranty. If you’re paying with your Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express card, you may already be covered. These companies offer up to a year of extended warranty protection for some cardholders — see if you’re one of them before paying extra at the register.
Holiday decorations: You may be dreaming of new twinkle lights or wreaths for every door, but if you can make do with what you already have, hold off. Decorations can be marked down by as much as 90% immediately following the holidays — so wait until then to stock up for next year.
Holiday cards: Be kind to your wallet and the environment by skipping the paper cards and opting for e-cards instead. They’re free and will still let your friends and family know you’re thinking of them. And a bonus: There’s no chance of them getting lost in the mail.
This article was updated on November 20, 2018.