10 Tips to Save Money on Holiday Shopping
“The holiday season” is often defined as the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. However, that doesn’t mean you have to wait until then to start thinking about how it’s going to impact you financially. According to American Research Group Inc., planned gift spending for 2017 was $54 above spending in 2016 as shoppers around the country spent an average of $983 on gifts.
It’s the season of giving, but here are 10 tips to give yourself a head start on saving now!
1) Set a Budget and Make a List
Your finances determine your budget, and your list determines how that budget is divided, so this is a critical first step. The beauty of it is that it can be done way ahead of time, allowing you to get a great idea of what you’ll need to make your season bright.
2) Make a Plan to Save, and Then Do It!
Look back at your spending for the past three-plus years and you’ll know roughly how much you’ll need for the next one. That’s where some quick math will tell you that you need to save X dollars each month to cover it. Need help staying on track? Check out Community Bank’s Christmas Club program. We’re like the elves to your Santa!
3) Talk Strategy with the Family
A big family can make you feel like you need to spend beyond your means. Talk it over with your family so you can divide and conquer when it comes to your double-digit nieces and nephews. Instead of smaller gifts from each family that can still burst your budget, pool your money and give one larger gift from “the aunts and uncles” fund.
4) Start Shopping Now!
Part of the problem with holiday spending is condensing it into a four-week spending spree. Reduce stress and spread the spending out by buying gifts throughout the year. Whether you start in March or October, every day before Thanksgiving is a win. Plan an outing with a friend or family member and make it an annual event—your own personal Black Friday, on a Friday in June.
5) Use Those Doorbuster Deals …
Black Friday and CyberMonday deals are great for saving money on those coveted items. This may mean hitting the stores at extreme hours or logging online at midnight, but it’s worth it to target a few specific items and go after them. Coupons and promo codes are the icing on the cake, so do your research in advance.
6) … But Don’t Overdo It
A lot of the Black Friday and CyberMonday deals are just window dressing. There are more than a few products that are better bought in spring or summer, so it’s a matter of more research. Contrary to popular marketing, you simply can’t save more by spending more. So if you cross everything off your list and come in under budget, just take that as a gift in itself.
8) Compare Prices Before Checkout
Whether you’re in line or online, do a quick search on your phone to see if the thing you’re about to buy is at its lowest price. Things like shipping can impact this, so make sure you’re looking at the grand total AND the delivery date. If you save 10 bucks but it shows up on January 3, you may not be feeling so jolly. Plus, some stores will do a price match for the item you have found at a lower price online — so search, search, search.
9) Save on Electronics with These Hacks
Rapid fire! Buy last year’s models (cheaper with plenty of life left). Don’t upgrade for the sake of upgrading. Target other holidays to get the best deals throughout the year. Take a pass on the extra warranty. Buy refurbished or display models. Finally, research accessories before buying.
10) Consider Alternative Gifts
Give time instead of money by making gifts that cost way less than something from the store. Bake cookies for neighbors, write stories for young children, turn your camera roll into an actual photo album or a personalized calendar. These things have value that don’t show up on a price tag.
Yes, the holiday season is defined as the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. However the time to start holiday shopping is year-round – it’ll save you money, and stress, so you can enjoy the holidays more.