The holidays are right around the corner and experts are predicting another season of big spending. The National Retail Federation expects holiday shoppers to shell out 3.6 - 4% more than they did last year with anticipated sales of at least $678.75 billion!
While stores are busy preparing for the holiday rush, it's important for shoppers to plan and budget early to avoid overspending. With over half of consumers researching gifts in October or earlier, use these money-saving tips to stay on track and on budget for stress-free shopping during the season of giving.
- Set a budget. Perhaps the most important way to curb holiday spending is by establishing a budget and sticking to it. Be smart and stay within your means to prevent post-holiday debt.
- Make a list. Gift giving can feel overwhelming without a solid plan of attack. Once you have decided the most important items to buy, determine what you are willing to pay for each.
- Start saving now. Consider establishing a separate savings account and if you have extra cash, begin making weekly deposits. When it comes time to shop, withdraw funds as needed so you don't dip into your day-to-day budget.
- Take advantage of Black Friday & Cyber Monday steals. Research stores and sites to get an idea of the deals in advance. Sales often begin before Thanksgiving so prepare to shop early.
- Comparison shop. While you're out, use your phone to double-check for lower prices elsewhere to get the best value. Many retailers like Lowe's, Target and Walmart also offer price matching.
- Use Promo Codes. When shopping online, unlock extra savings by checking for coupon codes online, in your inbox or on social media.
- Get crafty. Tap into your creative side to make meaningful but inexpensive gifts. Since you're planning ahead, there is plenty of time to get inspired and give it a go! If DIY isn't your thing, consider shopping on Etsy to support an independent artist.
- Don't wait. If you tend to procrastinate, now is the time to break the habit. Keep your shopping list handy and when you see a great deal, buy it. Crossing some items off early will make your holidays feel less stressful and free up your time during peak shopping season.
- Build in hidden costs. Have you ever found a killer deal online, only to have it ruined by exorbitant shipping costs? Remember to factor extra expenses into your budget for things like delivery and gift wrap to avoid surprises.
- Pay wisely. When it's time to check out, use cash or debit instead of credit cards to keep better track of the money you're spending. Other smart shopping tricks include using leftover gift cards and taking advantage of layaway services that allow you to make small payments over time.