Not every money advice is good for you, and some should go in one ear and immediately go out the other ear.
I have to say the recent advice to shop for your Noche Buena five months early, coming from an official of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), falls very much in that category.
We were told that said advice is because prices tend to increase as the holidays draw near. But what’s ironic is that DTI is the government agency mandated to monitor the prices of basic commodities and ensure that retailers will not take advantage of consumers. In a roundabout way, they are proving that they haven’t been able to do their job all these years so they’ll hand out a poor piece of money advice instead.
There are many things you can shop for in advance to be able to save your hard-earned money. Food however is one I would not recommend. If you’re planning to kick off your holiday shopping early now that the BER months are here, consider these wallet-friendly tips so you can spend less and end the year with zero debt.
#1 Put food items at the last of your list
Food is best consumed fresh, or freshly packed so I would not recommend filling your pantry with Noche Buena ingredients now. It’s tricky to keep track of what and when you consume unless you actually prepare and follow a fixed menu every week. Groceries are best bought on a weekly basis, and some even do it daily because they prefer whole foods over packaged foods that come with preservatives. Instead of saving, you may end up throwing away spoiled items that went past their best-by date.
#2 Skip shopping for food gifts as much as you can
Apart from food for your personal consumption, be careful of shopping for food gifts as well. Fruit baskets are nice but only if you can buy and deliver on the same day (or in the next couple of days at most). If you must, stick to food gifts that are easier to transport, does not require refrigeration, and have expiry dates of one month or longer. Try to also stick to food gifts that you have tried yourself, and enjoyed. Don’t gift a wine that you have not sampled, or pastries, or pasta sauces. Instead of spreading cheer, you could be spreading poor taste.
#3 Watch out for 9.9. 10.10. 11.11 and 12.12 sale dates
Plan your shopping to get the best prices and spend less for the same items. Ahead of the September 9, October 10, November 11 and December 12 online sale dates, fill your cart with the items you really plan on buying. Then check for flash sales, collect vouchers for free shipping, cashback rebates and discounts, and watch your total spend shrink. Plus see if your credit card will offer limited offer discounts on these sale dates which you can stack on top of all these other promotions.
#4 Try group gifts to shrink your holiday list
If you’ve checked your list twice and more, and still cannot remove any names, consider group gifts instead. Instead of personalized gifts for your office mates, treat them to large size pizzas one lunch date. Make sure you do the math and you don’t end up spending more with the group gift. You can do the same for families and friends, who are sure to understand that it’s the thought that truly counts.
#5 Remember the reason for the season with gifts that give back
One convenient way to remember all who you want to remember, make sure you stay within budget, and save several trips to the mall is to make a donation in their name instead. Pick a charity you know, or a charity that supports something you would all like to fund and write a donation. The BER months is that time of year when charities are hard at work raising funds to ensure the less fortunate can also enjoy the holidays, plus to meet their budget targets for next year. You can be sure your hard-earned money is well-spent.