Suze Orman's Holiday Buying Guide

suze orman

During the holiday season, the mall can be a daunting place. From navigating sales to hunting for the best prices, consumers can get lost.

"Nightline" brought personal finance guru Suze Orman to the Town Center mall in Boca Raton, Fla., and let her run loose to dispense free advice on how to manage finances and keep spending in line.

Suzes Survival Guide

So, herewith, the rules according to Suze:

1. All credit cards are not created equal.
Orman has been pushing for a credit card revolt. Since some major banks have raised credit card rates to nearly 30 percent, Orman suggests taking a stand, getting rid of bank credit cards and instead turning to credit union or store cards with lower rates.

"For years, I used to say you go into a store, why would you use a store credit card? A store credit card is at a 21, 22 percent interest rate. Why would you do that when you could use a bank credit card, that's 8, 9 percent? It makes no sense," she said.

"But now our store credit cards are at 21 or 22 percent, that's almost 10 percent less than what some of these bank credit cards are charging. ... If that's the only option you have, a bank credit card at 30 percent or a store credit card at 20 or 21 percent ... especially if you are getting a 10 percent discount, to open it up, it's a far better deal," she said.

2. Shop, but do it wisely. Malls can be tempting, so Orman advises to shop with clear intentions and limits.

"Write down what you need. Write it down on a piece of paper. That is, if you are shopping, why are you coming to the mall? You need to think about it before you go," she said.

Orman is amazed at the things people spend their money on. She ran into Joan Magazzolo and her teacup poodle Lucy, who was dressed in a little pink coat. Magazzolo told Orman she spends $500 a year on clothes for Lucy -- even though she's already in credit card debt.

"Can we make a pact? Let's just make a pact. That from this day forward you are going to say 'Denied,'" Orman said, referencing the popular "Can I Afford It?" segment from her TV show.

"Lucy, we have to have a talk," she said to Magazzolo's poodle. "Mama loves you so much she's not going to be buying any more clothes."

3. Avoid promotions.

One of Orman's major pet peeves is promotions. She spoke to one woman in the mall who spent $50 at Clinique -- only because they were offering two free gifts with a purchase.

"Here is the main message: When do you buy what you need versus what you can afford?" she said. "If we just turned into a society that buys what we need, regardless of what we can afford. ... We will get on the right path and give ourselves the greatest gift of all -- the gift of financial independence."

It all goes back to her money mantra for consumers: spend responsibly, shop wisely.

4. Sometimes you can afford it.

Orman tells hesitant shoppers that sometimes you can afford it. Summer Rodriguez, a college senior, who's graduating next month, told Orman she needs a dress.

"I'm out in the mall looking for a dress for graduation, and it's so hard to come here and not go crazy and take my credit card and just buy stuff," Rodriguez told Orman. "I do need a dress for graduation. I do need shoes."

Rodriguez told Orman that her only dress is knit -- not formal enough for the event. Orman urged Rodriguez to stay focused on what she needs, but ultimately to make a purchase.

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