As if holiday shopping isn’t challenging enough—sticking to a budget, not forgetting anyone on your list, and finding the best deals—this year promises to be even harder thanks to global supply-chain issues. Luckily, you can use our 12 suggestions for shopping, saving, and budgeting to prepare for this holiday season and do things differently next year.
Whether you're committed to local holiday shopping or a mix of larger retailers and local small businesses, use these holiday-shopping tips to get the most out of your dollars.
1. Take Advantage of Sales Throughout the Year
Suppose you plan ahead of time or have specific gifts in mind. In that case, you can take advantage of sales and promotions throughout the year rather than paying full price in the days leading up to Christmas. Look out for special events and promotions like Amazon Prime Day and holiday sales earlier in the year, like Presidents Day or the 4th of July. "Black Friday" sales may start earlier than usual, too.
2. Put Your Rewards Points to Use
Sign up for a credit card or debit card program that offers rewards points on your purchases. Then, use your rewards card throughout the year to accumulate points or cash back from your purchases that you can use later in the year to pay for a portion of holiday gifts. Most rewards cards offer points on everyday expenses like gas, dining, and grocery store purchases. So, why not rack up rewards points on money you would be spending anyway?
3. Shop Local!
Shopping in your town, city, or community has many benefits for you and your local small businesses. Shopping locally boosts the economy and job growth in your community, creating job stability and reducing unemployment. Staying small and local means you'll get more personalized service regarding recommendations, attention to detail and care, and customer service. You can also feel good about spending money on Main Street because most small business owners donate a portion of their profits to charitable organizations each year. Look for special offers on Small Business Saturday, which is usually the Saturday after Thanksgiving each year.
4. Look for Price-Matching Opportunities
Many stores like Target and Wal-Mart offer price matching, which stores use to get you to purchase with them instead of a competitor. If you find the item you want for a lower price at a competitor, the other store will either match that price or offer it to you at an even more discounted price. To find out if a store has a price matching policy and what it is, look online or call to double-check.
When you go into your holiday shopping with a strategy, you're less likely to overspend. Consider these tips to help save you time and money.
1. Start Saving Early
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it's worth repeating: start saving for your holiday shopping and holiday expenses early in the year. For example, this January, you could set aside extra cash from gifts or a bonus to make your first savings deposit for next year's holiday shopping. Try to contribute a set amount to your holiday savings each week or month, such as $100 a month. You can adjust the amount and frequency based on your spending and savings needs.
2. Pay with Cash
It's easy to overspend when you're swiping your debit or credit card to pay for holiday purchases. By utilizing the "Envelope Budget," you withdraw only the amount of cash that you have budgeted for your gift purchases. Paying with cash helps keep you on track to stick to your budget and avoid mindlessly adding additional unnecessary items.
3. Collect Coupon Codes
Take advantage of coupon websites and apps that help save you money on your online shopping purchases. These apps and websites will scan the Internet for a retailer’s available coupon codes and automatically apply any coupon codes to your cart at checkout. Save yourself the time and hassle of searching for the coupon codes yourself and testing their activeness. Apps like Honey and Rakuten also allow you to get cashback on your purchases. Other popular coupon websites include RetailMeNot, Coupons.com, Coupon Cabin, and Groupon.
4. DIY This Holiday Season
Don't be afraid to go the homemade route during the holidays. Homemade and DIY gifts hold a lot of meaning, and people enjoy the specialized nature and can save you a lot of money. The same goes for holiday decorations—Christmas decorations can get expensive for the tree, the lights, yard decorations, indoor decorations, etc. You should, of course, be saving and reusing holiday decorations from the year prior as much as you can, but if you want new/fresh décor, you can try making a holiday wreath yourself with items from the craft store instead of buying one premade, making homemade garland for your tree, or wrapping your gifts with something other than wrapping paper such as reusable fabric or recycled paper.
Get organized and set priorities before you hit the stores. Use these tips to help create a spending budget and keep your bank account balance in the green this holiday season.
1. Decide on Your Spending Limit
Before you start your holiday shopping, determine how much you have available to cover expenses for the year. This includes gifts, travel, holiday party expenses like extra food, decorations, drinks, etc. When you figure out how much money you have to allocate for each category of expenses, make sure you stick to it. If you find that you're over your budget, try to cut costs from another category or get other family members and friends to chip in for group activities such as holiday parties or offset costs more.
2. Track Your Purchases
Keep a log of all gifts purchased, who they're for, from where, and what the total costs were. Make sure to keep this blog updated with each purchase you make so you'll know exactly how much money you have left for the remainder of your gifts without spending more than you have available.
3. Limit the Guest List
Reduce the number of people you will host and buy gifts for this season to keep your expenses more manageable. Especially since Covid, many people have been making a point to gather in smaller numbers, so cutting back on your guest list will help keep everyone healthy and keep your budget on track. You can also ask people to pitch in and bring a dish or party item, so you take some of the financial pressure off yourself and your wallet.
4. Review Last Years’ Receipts
Take a look at your receipts and spending log for last year's holiday season. Review how much you spent and what. Decide if there are any expenses that you can cut from this year's spending or costs that will not need to be accounted for this year as they may not be annual purchases. Taking some time to look at what you spent last year can give you a good idea of how much you'll likely be spending this year and how much you'll need to save and budget.
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At Moody Bank, our mission is to build long-lasting customer relationships by living our core values of respect and delivering excellent financial services. If you feel stressed about holiday shopping, let us help! Compare Personal Bank Accounts and open a new holiday savings account to prepare for the upcoming holiday season.