As you stumbled out of bed, you nearly tripped over a pile of empty department store shopping bags strewn across the floor. You looked around and saw shiny new tech gadgets on the table and an empty wallet sitting next to them looking melancholy. Your mind whirled: “What the heck happened here?”
Then, suddenly, you remembered: Black Friday weekend.
Yesterday and today (due to “Cyber Monday” deals yesterday), quite a few people have been getting a reality check and some have been realizing they spent more than they had planned. If you are not among them, congrats! You must have followed our tips. If you are, don’t worry, you’re not alone: it’s estimated that over 100 million Americans went shopping this weekend, ringing up around $1,000 each in new credit card debt.
But we’re about to help you discover the cure for your Black Friday/Cyber Monday hangover:
1. The “Return Policy” is Your Friend
While it’s very possible that you only purchased things you really need (either for yourself or as gifts for others), many of us got a few things we’re regretting. This is pretty common. After all, the stores count on the fact that people will be swept up in the frenzy of finding great deals and will therefore buy things they were not planning to buy.
What you should do is go through and evaluate your purchases one by one to see if it’s something that you (or someone you love) really need(s). If the little voice in your head says “Aw, but it was such a good deal!” or “You could use this in case [insert infrequent situation here]” then you should probably return that particular item.
If the full boxed set of SpongeBob SquarePants episodes seemed like a good idea at the time but now you’d prefer to have that $50 back, then it’s time to see if you can return it.
Fortunately, there are still many stores that have reasonable return policies. Many of these are viewable online, including:
WalMart: The behemoth of retailing has a decent return policy. Most purchases can be returned within 15 days, and some can be returned within 90 days. See the full policy here: WalMart Return Policy.
Costco: Items can usually be returned within 90 days, which is great! If the item was delivered, you must have it ready to pick up in the same condition it was dropped off. Here’s the full Costco Return Policy.
Apple: With some exceptions, the cool toys you buy from Apple can be returned within 14 days. If you buy an iPhone, it’s possible to return it but you might not be able to cancel your wireless contract without incurring fees or charges. If you’re thinking of returning an Apple product, check out the Apple Return Policy.
Staples: Most products from Staples, including furniture and tech products, can be returned within 14 days. But check the Staples Return Policy to be sure about a particular item.
These are just a few examples, but go online and search for the return policy of the stores you where you bought your “regret purchases”. Hopefully they accept returns, and if they do, you should get it done ASAP so as to avoid the possibility of forgetting and missing the deadline.
2. Make a Vow to Save Money in December
Once you’ve taken action to return any items you didn’t want, you should take a step to prevent this type of spending again in the future. The holidays shopping season is by no means over just because Black Friday is finished, so what you should do is make a vow to refrain from any more unnecessary purchases in the month of December. That doesn’t mean you can’t buy presents for your family and friends, it just means you will be purposeful about avoiding the temptation to spend above your means.
This is especially important because so many people put holiday shopping on their credit cards — which can have interest rates of as much as 15% to 25%. You do NOT want to put yourself in a financial hole for the upcoming year. So plan to be smart about your spending choices in December.
3. Use ReadyForZero to Pay Off Your Debt in 2012
Finally, you should commit to using ReadyForZero to pay off your debt in 2012! You can create a plan for paying off your credit cards, student loans, and other debts. And you don’t have to do the math, because we do it for you. Plus, you can track your progress with our beautiful progress bars — which helps motivate you! Not only do we kick debt’s butt on a regular basis here, but we’re always refining and making this work for real people (here’s a detailed explanation of how it works).
So take the three minutes out of your day to sign up and make a plan for paying off all your debt in 2012. There’s no excuse!
And if you’re already using ReadyForZero, congrats. Redouble your commitment to paying off your debts and send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know how it’s going!
If you take these three actions, you’ll have a set the foundation for conquering your debt, rather than the other way around. And that’s something you can be thankful for!
Image credit: SidewaysSarah