It's been one heck of a tough month. We bit off every nail during and after the election, have watched with our jaws on the floor as the coronavirus numbers have soared, and are now trying to come to grips with the advice that we all stay home for Thanksgiving.
It's perfectly OK if you're tempted to treat yourself this weekend after what a horrific November this has been. You're entitled. But if you overspend and throw money away, you're likely to just wind up feeling worse.
Here are a few tips on how to save money while you stress-shop.
1. Get the best prices online
Look, Amazon is great for retail therapy: You can get everything you want all in one place, and you’ll likely qualify for free shipping.
But Amazon doesn’t always have the lowest prices, and a lot of people end up overspending for the sake of convenience.
If you want to save yourself some money and the trouble of price checking, you can use a free browser extension to automatically scan for better deals and coupon codes whenever you shop online.
The download also lets you set price-drop alerts for your wish list, so any time one of your must-have items goes on sale somewhere, you’ll get an email letting you know.
2. Earn cash back on your groceries
Retail therapy isn’t limited to clothes and electronics. Some of us do our stress shopping at the grocery store, then transition to stress eating once we get it all home.
If you’re planning to ease your election anxiety at the supermarket, make sure you’re earning cash back on your purchases.
A free app will give you cash-back rewards just for snapping a photo of your receipt. It works at virtually any grocery store and also many convenience stores, liquor stores and big-box retailers.
And don’t worry if you buy your groceries online these days. You can connect the app to your email or Amazon account and earn points on your digital receipts as well.
3. Make use of free gift cards
Whether you’re treating yourself or doing your regular holiday shopping, it’s always nice when you can cut down on your expenses by using a gift card.
Take advantage of a rewards program that helps you earn free gift cards just by watching videos, answering surveys and even doing your normal shopping.
That’s right, you can get gift cards for stores like Walmart and Amazon just by shopping at those very same stores. There's an app that you sign up for in just a few minutes.
You can earn rewards at your own pace no matter where you are — at home, at work or even waiting in the checkout line.
4. Don't let your balances build up
While a little retail therapy is OK, overindulging can send your credit card balances soaring. Once you’ve got all the self-care shopping out of your system, make sure to pay off as much of your credit card bill as you can.
Why? Besides the high interest rate on most credit cards, your credit utilization — the amount of credit you’re using at any given time — has a direct impact on your credit score.
A low credit score will make it harder for you to qualify for new credit cards in the future and also increase the amount of interest you’ll have to pay on a car loan or mortgage.
If you haven’t checked your credit score in a while (or ever), you can easily view it for free online.
It takes only a few minutes to check your score, and if it’s lower than average you'll get personalized recommendations on how to pump it up.
5. Trade in your debt
If your election spending spree ends up aggravating an already high credit card balance, you may need to consolidate your debt with a personal loan.
A high balance on multiple credit cards means you’re likely racking up a mountain of interest. By paying off your high-interest cards with a single low-interest loan, you can become debt free a lot sooner. You’ll also have only one monthly payment to worry about.
Use a website that will let you compare quotes from multiple lenders so you'll find the best rate on a personal loan.
Shopping around for rates is totally free, and it could save you hundreds — maybe even thousands — in interest.