It’s no secret that 2020 has been weird, right? There has been very little we could count on, and even less predictability. But one thing we know for sure is that the holidays are upon us. If you are like me, you couldn’t wait to put up our Christmas décor this year (you know who you are), while others are basking in the season of gratitude as Thanksgiving approaches.
As the season of holiday shopping approaches, NerdWallet estimates that holiday spend will be down in 2020, but only by about 9 percent. Will you spend more or less this year? Either way, here are 7 tips to keep in mind as you get ready for holiday shopping.
- Set a budget
Adulting is hard, we know, but we also know that setting a budget will help you in the long run. This year, it’s important to consider your financial situation. Was it a tough year financially? People will understand if your budget is smaller than normal. Be responsible with your spending. Setting a budget that you can refer back to will be helpful when you run into impulse buys! Pro-tip – If you’re looking for ways to save, consider how a nice, handwritten card could mean even more than a coffee mug!
- Make a list and track your expenses
Before you go to the store, or online, make a list of people you need to purchase gifts for this holiday season. Family, teachers, service providers, everyone. Write them all out and start making a list of what you plan to get them and how much you plan to spend. Then, as you order, mark how much the gift was after tax, shipping, etc. Keep an eye on your list and your expenses as you shop through the season.
- Shop local
Shopping small and shopping local has never been more important than in 2020. Many small businesses really took a hit in 2020 because of COVID-19. So many of these businesses are counting on the holiday push to survive. Be sure to check out your local restaurants, salons, boutiques, and other local businesses as you shop this year. Many have curbside pickup or shipping options to minimize contact.
- Use cash instead of credit
We’re taking a page out of Dave Ramsey’s book here, but using cash is a great way to ensure you stay on track and on budget. This protects you from going a little bit over budget on this gift, and the next one, and the next one. Once you’re out, you’re out!
- Use credit cards to your advantage
NerdWallet reports that 40 percent of Americans have not yet paid their credit card balance from 2019’s holiday shopping season. Yikes – don’t do that! Instead, if you’re going to use credit cards, make them work for YOU! Research credit cards with no or low APR, cash back bonuses, or mileage benefits. Then, pay it off at the end of the month! You’ll reap all the benefits, not the credit card company.
- Research cashback sites
As online shopping has grown in popularity, so too have cash back websites. Check out sites like Ibotta and Rakuten. These sites are great resources for promo codes and they also offer cash back rebates when you click the store link from their site. Pro-tip: put these cash back rebates aside for next year’s holiday shopping!
- Prepare yourself for next year
It takes planning, and it takes a little self-restraint, but when you put a little money aside each month for holiday shopping, it minimizes the financial blow in December. When you know about what your budget is, you can set aside some money each money toward that amount. Put it in a secret envelope or a holiday cookie jar – just don’t forget about it!
Whether you’re planning on spending more, less, or the same as previous years, these budgeting tips will help you stay on track and shop smart this year.