Another holiday shopping season is upon us, but this year inflation may present a snag in your plans. Now more than ever, it’s important to shop smart for the holidays. In this article, we offer the best holiday shopping tips to see you through the season.
Create A Budget
According to a recent Gallup poll, Americans plan to spend an average of $978 This is about $46 more than the average planned holiday spending in 2022
Before you start buying gifts for everyone on your list, set a comfortable spending limit on this year’s holiday gift shopping. While it’s often helpful to look back at what you spent last year, keep in mind that prices may be higher this year due to inflation. You may have to buy fewer items in order to stay within budget.
Using a spreadsheet, pen and paper, or app, keep track of your purchases as you shop so you don’t go over budget.
Overspending at the holidays can put you in debt or make it harder for you to pay for necessities such as bills and groceries. According to a recent report from CNBC, 60% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck this holiday season, yet online shopping is expected to increase. This means that many shoppers are relying on credit cards or Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) installment plans to make up the difference. Once in debt, it’s hard to dig out, especially when it comes to high-interest credit card. Read more about how to create a budget.
Make Your List and Check It Twice
Once you’ve set your budget, make a list of the people you want to buy for. Can you realistically fit everyone into your budget?
It may be helpful to create an A and B list. “A” is a list of people you have to buy for (parents, spouse, children, siblings, etc.) and “B” is for the people you would like to buy for but could be cut if your budget demands it: co-workers, neighbors, friends, teachers, etc. Start with the A list and then move to B if you have money left in your budget. You can also set limits for each person in order to fit everyone in your budget. If necessary, trim your list or consider homemade gifts such as cookies. You can often find nice trays at the dollar store to make a pretty and inexpensive Christmas cookie arrangement.
If you have a large family or group of friends, consider a Secret Santa or White Elephant party where everyone brings and leaves with one gift. This reduces your list of people to shop for–and it’s a fun get together.
Stick to your list–and to your budget. The intensity of the holiday season can push you into impulse purchases, adding someone to your list just because you found something they might like.
Save Throughout The Year
One of the best ways to avoid falling into debt with holiday shopping is to save throughout the year. Our Christmas Club Account is designed to help you save in advance. Your deposits accumulate interest throughout the year and the balance is paid out in October, giving you plenty of time to shop for the holidays. With no fees, this holiday savings account is a no-brainer way to reduce your financial stress at the end of the year. It also makes budgeting easier because you know how much you have available to spend. And you don’t have to dip into your regular monthly budget to shop for gifts and other holiday expenses.
Start Shopping Early
When you save in advance, you can take advantage of early Black Friday sales. Many retailers start their holiday sales earlier and earlier each year. You can also find good deals throughout the year, so if you spot something for that hard-to-buy-for person, pick it up now instead of waiting. Shopping early or throughout the year means you can spread out your purchases so you don’t have too much money going out of your bank account in a short period of time.
Shop For Sales and Deals
While you’re probably familiar with the big sales days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, many retailers also have sales throughout the season. If you’re shopping online, you can use a browser extension to help you find the best deals on the merchandise you’re looking for. Honey is a popular example of this kind of software. You can track prices on major retailers’ websites so you know when something is discounted.
In addition to looking for sales, you can shop at stores that offer discounted merchandise every day of the year such as TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Don’t forget about brick-and-mortar store coupons–you’ll probably receive some around the holidays anyway. Locally, the Tanger Outlets in Branson, MO are about an hour to an hour and a half away from Northwest Arkansas and Cassville, MO.
Shop With A Rewards Credit Card
If you’re going to spend money anyway, you might as well earn rewards points on your spending. Consider signing up with a rewards credit card with an 0% APR introductory offer so you can take a few months to pay off your holiday shopping without having to pay interest. Shopping with a credit card also gives you the benefit of zero fraud liability and many merchants now accept contactless payments for credit and debit cards, which is even more secure than a traditional credit card.
Use Your Credit Card Rewards Points
This time of year involves higher spending, so it may be a great time to cash in on your points or cash back. This is especially great if you need to travel during the holidays.
Shop Securely Online
Shopping online can save you time, help you avoid crowds, and save on gas. However, you need to shop safely to avoid scammers. Stick with secure, familiar websites, beware of clicking on links in emails and text messages, and don’t download attachments you weren’t expecting.
Creating A Shopping Schedule
Finally, it’s time to get started with your holiday shopping. For brick-and-mortar store shopping, plan where you need to go and when. Reserve a day for last minute shopping in case there is someone you missed or just couldn’t find something for. At the same time, aim to have your shopping done by a certain date so you can leave yourself enough time to wrap gifts
When shopping online, set aside time to order your gifts and create a deadline for when the last gift must be ordered. Leave a little bit of extra time to account for potential shipping and postal delays.
We can help you shop smartly this holiday season!
At CS Bank, we are wishing you a safe and happy holiday season. Learn more about our Christmas Club savings account, rewards credit card, and digital banking tools to help you have a safe, smart, holiday shopping experience in Northwest Arkansas and Southwest Missouri this year.