Attention, holiday shoppers. Don’t let holiday shopping put an overwhelming amount of stress on you or your budget.
The National Retail Federation predicts that the average consumer will spend close to $1,000 this year on gifts and other holiday expenses.
Still, with just a few simple tips, you can conquer the store aisles and online shopping sites while keeping that holiday spirit intact.
Most major retailers advertise their holiday sales and Black Friday specials ahead of time, so it’s easy to plan ahead and know what you’re looking for. Scanning sales flyers and online promotions will save you hours of wandering and wondering. A plan will also help you avoid those impulse buys that you don’t really need.
The urge to buy loved ones an extra gift — or two or three — is often strong. So it’s helpful to assign a specific dollar amount to gifts for every family member and friend. For example, by allocating $50 to “Dad’s Gift,” you can steer clear of the power tools or barbecue accessories that are over that amount. Plus, if you find the perfect gift for $40, then you can keep the extra $10 in your account, add it toward another person’s budgeted amount, or treat yourself for being a savvy shopper.
If you’re crafty or have a special skill, use it to make gifts! The popularity of sites like Etsy proves that people love hand-made gifts. Roll up your sleeves and make something from the heart that will be easier on your wallet.
Use every tool at your disposal to save this holiday season. Yes, that includes your phone.
Many major retailers have mobile apps with special deals, coupons, and surprise sales. Download the necessary apps in advance, and you can save time, frustration, and money.
Most people have big dreams that take big cash reserves, such as buying a house or car or taking a cruise. Those life goals can inadvertently be forgotten as people get caught up in the shopping frenzy.
Make a reminder of your financial dreams. Put a sticky note on your credit card or debit card that says something like “Do I want this item more than a new car?” Or make the background image on your phone a picture of your dream home. A constant reminder will help keep your spending in check.
Return and exchange policies vary, so be sure to read details online or ask about them in stores, advises the National Retail Federation. To keep any returns as simple as possible, the NRF suggests that buyers staple a gift receipt to the merchandise tag and keep a copy of the original receipt themselves.
Also, take advantage of electronic receipts. Many retailers offer consumers the option to have their receipts sent to their email accounts.
With long to-do lists and limited time, focus on the must-buy items, and don’t go crazy trying to save a few bucks. Shoppers should determine the top few items they want to buy, buy them when they find them at a decent price, and then enjoy the holiday season.
Hopefully, these ideas will help you save some money this winter holiday season and have a little more fun in the process.
These tips can help you have a happy holiday, but saving money and budgeting should be done throughout the year. La Cap can help you build those habits. Our partnership with KOFE provides a wealth of financial education resources. You can find budgeting tools, calculators, and much, much more.