Holiday shopping is right around the corner. Believe it or not, some people who are reading this probably have all their holiday shopping finished already! With huge shopping events throughout the year like Amazon Prime Days and Target Deal Days, holiday shopping really takes place throughout the entire second half of the year, not just November and December anymore.
eMarketer, an expert in retail shopping research, predicts 2022 U.S. holiday retail sales to increase 3.3% in 2022 to almost $1.3trillion. This year is being considered the first “normal holiday shopping season” since the COVID-19 pandemic came to the United States in 2020.
Whether you haven’t started shopping or you’re well on your way, these 8 shopping tips can help you spend responsibly and stay on budget this holiday season.
1. Give Practical Gifts
Sometimes, holiday gift buying can feel like you’re buying gifts just to buy gifts. Especially when it comes to kids who may not really “need” anything because it feels like they have everything! Consider giving practical gifts. For example, if they’re in baseball, consider new cleats, batting gloves or a batting helmet. If they’re going on a spring break trip to Florida, maybe a new swimming suit or goggles.
2. Give Vacations or Experiences
This year, maybe instead of more stuff, family and friends might enjoy an experience, membership, or even a vacation. Consider a membership to the local children’s museum, a trip to the waterpark for the kids, or a weekend away for the parents.
3. Unsubscribe to Retail Alerts or Ads
In a world where we constantly have ads and specials coming at us via social media, text messages, TV, radio, and other media – you may consider turning off these ads or unsubscribing, so they’re not coming at you all of the time. Out of sight, out of mind.
4. Give Gift Cards
Giving gift cards as gifts can help you stay on budget because you just purchase the amount you intended – no extra tax, no add-ons, and no unexpected price increase. Plus, who doesn’t love to receive gift cards to get what they really want?! Consider gift cards to their favorite store or grab a Deerwood Bank MasterCard® Gift Card for everyone on your list.
5. Shop with Cash
One of personal finance expert Dave Ramsey’s most famous money tips is using a cash envelope system. Ahead of the holiday season, set your gift-giving budget, and put that amount of cash in an envelope. Having only that amount available will help you stay on budget as you work through your shopping!
6. Save throughout the Year
Though most holiday spending takes place in the fourth quarter, setting money aside throughout the year can make it less of a hit to the pocketbook once the holiday season rolls around. You could set aside a certain amount of cash each month or create a separate savings account at the bank for automatic transfers each month that are earmarked for holiday gifting!
7. Don’t Spend Money You Don’t Have
This tip is true all of the time, but people are more likely to extend themselves financially over the holiday season. If you cannot pay off your gift-buying debt at the end of the month, really give thought to if you need to purchase it at all. We’re betting your loved ones wouldn’t want you to spend the next seven months paying for their gift (and paying way more thanks to high-interest rates on credit cards!).
8. Dig into Discounts
Are you an educator? First responder? Healthcare worker? In the military? There are many discounts available for people who serve in these fields. Check online by googling “retail discounts for healthcare workers” or ask at checkout when you’re in the store. It’s a quick, easy way to save money!
Holiday shopping starts earlier each year it seems but starting earlier sometimes just means you have more time to spend money. Don’t fall for the antics of retailers at the cost of your own financial peace. And, as always, be sure to be extra vigilant about protecting your financial information and watch your accounts for fraudulent activity – scammers love the holiday season for stealing and hacking.