Facts are facts. When it comes to holiday planning, lists are long and time is short. If you’re one of those mythical people who has already finished your Christmas shopping, this article may not pertain to you. But you can still share it with the normal people in your life…that’s right you prepared people are the weird ones. Now, if you’re part of the 53% of people who wait until the last minute to tackle your holiday shopping, you’ll want to keep reading.
Ever Ascending Holiday Spending
Every year, Americans spend more on winter holidays than any other occasion in the calendar year. Staying in line with this upward trend, shoppers are expected to spend more during the 2018 holiday season than ever before. According to the National Retail Federation: “Consumers say they will spend an average $1,007.24 during the holiday season this year, up 4.1 percent from the $967.13 last year.” And that figure doesn’t even include travel expenses!
Regardless of whether your seasonal spending will top the national average or you skate by just under the line, we want to help you save money. While there may not be enough time to implement a long-term plan, here are five practical tips to help you stretch your holiday dollars a little further this year:
● Know your limits. Set your limits. At this point in the game, time is of the essence—and so is your money. Rather than trying to overwhelm people with the quantity of your gifts, focus on the quality. It’s always better to give someone one gift they’ll love than to flood them with a variety of forgettable trinkets. Save your time (and hopefully your cash) with more meaningful gifts.
● Go with gift cards. Don’t stress an opinionated recipient. Let them do the heavy lifting, you just give them the gift of shopping guidance. Plus, nothing says “treat yourself” like a gift card. Why not get creative and make those very same gift cards work for you? Many retailers offer gift cards at a discount during the holidays. If a store is selling gift cards at a 10% discount, buy a $100 gift card for $90 and use it to pay for your gift purchases. Hidden savings will help you through.
● Abandon your cart. If you’re planning to do your Christmas shopping online this year, slowing down can save you money. Instead of finding the item you want, adding it to your shopping cart, and checking out immediately, try a new approach. The first two steps are the same. But then, instead of completing the purchase, leave the item in your cart and exit the site. When something sits in your cart for an extended period of time, many online retailers will send you a reminder email offering a discount if you’ll come back and complete the transaction.
● The search for savings is on. Thanks to the Internet, you no longer have to cross your fingers and wonder if the store you’re shopping from will offer a coupon or promo code. Websites like Retailmenot, Groupon, and Ebates do the work for you. If you’re a frequent Amazon shopper, the Honey app will automatically search the web for coupons or promotions on the items you’ve added to your cart. The holiday season is the perfect time to let modern technology work for you!
● Patience pays. Failing to plan ahead is rarely a good strategy. But in the case of holiday travels, it just might work in your favor. If you’re hitting the road for Christmas vacation, websites like HotelTonight and LastMinuteTravel have created their entire business around helping travelers like you score last-minute deals on hotel rooms. Don’t just book the first available hotel room you see in the search results. Shop around. Outstanding savings are out there — you just have to find them.
While the tips we’ve offered can help you get through this holiday season with your spirit intact, there’s an even better way to prepare for next year. At United Community Credit Union, our Christmas Savings Club makes it simple to set aside a little money each month. Start a new tradition of stress-free shopping. Contact us today to learn more about our Christmas Club!