This is the season to be jolly and -if we are being honest- a little stressful too. According to the National Retailers Association, this year, 92% of consumers plan to celebrate the winter holidays, which include events like Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. Based on this year’s survey, consumers are planning to spend an average of $874 on seasonal items. Whatever the number you are planning to spend, you can make smart decisions to make the best of each $1 you spend.
Savvy shoppers make savvy decisions that begin way before they enter a store or click on their shopping basket. Here are things you can do to become an expert on saving for the season.
Make a list of gifts and seasonal items. Begin with a wish list that is reasonable but also aspirational. Then, start browsing to figure out the amount you would have to set aside for the list. Check your yearly (ideally) or monthly budget and see if the number is within reason. Edit the list to ensure you get the holiday you want and can have without fretting or putting other projects at risk.
Once you’ve settled on a list of gifts, decoration, menu and so on, commit to it. Avoid second guessing the decisions you’ve made, and always remember they are guided by long-term plans instead of short-term whims.
Because they are planners, savvy shoppers begin their hunt early. According to the NRA, most consumers will start purchasing their gifts for the holidays on October 31st to take advantage of Black-Friday, Cyber Monday and such seasonal sales. You will certainly ease stress and make better decisions if you start crossing items from your list in advance. More importantly, shopping early can help you distribute your expenses in a longer period. This is especially important for those who do not have fixed monthly income.
Some businesses award early shoppers with access to special offers. Sign up for subscriptions from the websites or shops where you plan to do most of your shopping. Many subscriptions give you early access to deals and avoid any stock issues that may delay your purchases.
There are many ways you can use technology to your advantage as a savvy shopper. You can use money tracking apps for your seasonal budget exclusively. You can also install browser extensions that make it easier for you to find deals or coupons. With so many offers out there, any shopper can feel a little lost. Chrome or other browser extensions can help you track the trend in prices, alert you on any attractive deals and sales and even remind you of cash back deals. In a season when everyone is looking for the perfect gift, turning on stock alerts can be practical as well.
Shop smart instead of shopping hard. Shopping smart includes seeking deals, but also thinking outside the box and coming up with creative ways of decorating and celebrating. Visit second-hand stores, look for discounted gift cards, embark on DIY projects, and reach out to others for creative ways to celebrate each other like “Secret Santa” or group gifts.
Although everyone wants to have a lovely holiday season, doing so should not get in the way of your financial goals. Looking to free yourself from debt, taking the trip of a lifetime, buying an item that has been on your wish list for too long… none of those meaningful goals should be put at risk for a season that brings joy but can also bring too many expenses. Shop smart so you can give yourself the best gift there is: peace of mind.