Farnoosh Torabi Shares Favorite Holiday Shopping Tips With Wise Bread Readers!

by Camilla Cheung on 4 December 2015 (0 comments)

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I love giving gifts (and getting them) when the holidays roll around, but in the excitement to spread the good cheer, it’s easy to get carried away and to spend a little more than I can afford. How can you plan wisely and avoid carrying debt into the New Year, without feeling like you’re depriving yourself? Fortunately for us, Farnoosh Torabi, personal finance guru, TV star, and author of When She Makes More: The Truth About Navigating Love and Life for a New Generation of Women, is here to share her best holiday spending strategies, which I’ll certainly be implementing this season, and hopefully, my wallet will thank me in the New Year!

1. What are some of your favorite "overlooked" tips about spending smart during the holidays?

Make a kids-only rule. Limit the number of gifts you have to buy for friends and family by making a rule such as gifts for the kids only. Alternatively, you could do a gift exchange where you only have to buy one family member a gift instead of all of them.

Shop early. By doing some shopping in advance and taking advantage of sales throughout the year, you can avoid paying full-price at the last minute. Just be careful not to forget about the gifts you have stashed away.

Search your home for unused gift cards. They may be lying forgotten in a drawer. Even if they are to a store you don't normally frequent, chances are you can use them to buy a gift for someone else.

Favor clever over cost. Gifts with a clever touch – like ones that celebrate an inside joke or old memories – can often trump a pricey present. Sites like Living Social and Groupon are also great

2. Your book, When She Makes More: The Truth About Navigating Love and Life for a New Generation of Women, gives a lot of great advice for women who are the top-earners in their households. What do you think is a great gift for the ultra-successful woman CEO who already has everything?

The gift of time and/or a little luxury and pampering. Offering her a free weekend to do anything she wants while you run her errands and take care of the kids would be an incredible gift. During this time off, you could book her a day at the spa and invite her friends to surprise her at her favorite restaurant – because, really, when was the last time she saw them? 

3. What are some of the biggest personal finance mistakes people make during the holiday season?

Not communicating with your significant other. Few things put a damper on marital felicity like a giant credit card bill in January. While it's sweet to surprise your significant other with a nice holiday gift, make sure you're both on the same financial page to avoid unwanted surprises in the New Year. Be open about expectations and budgets this season.

Focusing on material gifts rather than experiences. In a few years, the toys and knick-knacks may be forgotten, but great experiences allow you to create memories with your friends and family that will last a lifetime. Make sure you prioritize quality time with your family and friends, which is more important than frantically rushing around buying gifts.

Not keeping an eye on your credit score. By spending more on your credit cards than you can pay off at the end of the billing cycle, you risk both paying interest on the balance, as well as dinging your credit score. One way to keep tabs on your credit score is to use a credit card like the Chase Slate® card. As a cardmember, you'll have free access to your FICO score through the Chase Slate Credit Dashboard, as well as valuable information such as the main factors, positive and negative, behind your score. Additional tools allow you to track your 12-month credit trends, and offer suggestions on how to improve your credit. Managing seasonal finances wisely with the right planning and tools can help keep your score intact and even improve your score into the New Year.

 

4. If someone spent too much money this holiday season and is experiencing the dreaded "holiday hangover," what is your best advice on how they can dig themselves out of that hole?

To minimize the impact on your finances, you might pick up a few side jobs (babysitting, dog-walking, seasonal jobs) to help offset the extra expenses, which can enable you to pay off your balance in full. You can also sell some unwanted items such as extra clothing, furniture, and electronics.

If you do find yourself struggling with debt in the new year, you can alleviate the financial burden by making sure you have a good balance transfer card that doesn't have an annual fee or penalty APR, such as the Chase Slate® card. That way, you won't be paying excessive interest as long as you make your monthly payments. This is a temporary solution, of course, as you'll have to pay your balance in full before the introductory period ends, but will give you some temporary relief.

5. What is the favorite gift you’ve received that cost nothing or very little?

For one of my birthdays, my then long-distance boyfriend (now husband) surprised me by coming to visit me in New York a couple days sooner than he said he’d be there. I got home to my apartment and he was waiting for me by the door with flowers!

6. Do you have a holiday message to the readers of Wise Bread? 

Remember to enjoy the moments more than the gifts! Things don’t last, nor make us happy. But memories do.

This post is sponsored by Chase Slate®.

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