Holiday Shopping Tips

With supply chain shortages, shipping delays, and increasing prices, it's possible that finding the right things for everyone on your list might be tricky this year. But we've got some tips for you that might help cut down on some of the holiday stress. 

Start with a List

Some of us started shopping very early this year – like pre-Halloween early. If that’s you, make sure you stay organized. When you hide the Christmas presents, it’s easy to forget which ones you’ve already purchased and for whom, whether they’ve been wrapped or not, and maybe even where you hid them in the first place! Getting down to the last minute and realizing you’re not ready isn’t enjoyable for anyone. Whether your list is on a sheet of paper or an app like Santa’s Bag, make sure to keep track of all the details.

If you’re working with a spouse, family members, or friends to coordinate gift purchases, make sure you communicate well. With apps like Google Sheets, shared Notes on your iPhone, or even group texts, you can make sure items aren’t duplicated or missed.

Track Prices       

Online shopping has its perks and tracking price changes is definitely one of them. Browser extensions and apps like Honey, SlickDeals, Capital One Shopping and others allow you to watch items and receive nearly instant notifications when prices dip. Be careful which one you download, though…several out there only work for Amazon.

Tracking the price of an item you want obviously helps save you money, since you won’t spend at peak prices. However, there can be a downside. If you wait too long for the item to go on sale, it could sell out before you snag one or not make it to your house in time for holiday festivities.

Also, be on the lookout for ongoing sales this year. Many companies are putting out deals throughout the month rather than saving them all for Black Friday to help prevent shortages and sell-outs.

Watch Your Debt

You’ve probably heard of a debt snowball – sounds festive, right? Wrong! Holiday debt is a very real thing and it can accumulate fast. With gift buying expected to gross $2.8 billion (yes, BILLION) dollars in interest alone over 2022, be aware of how much you can realistically spend on gifts. If possible, pay off your debt from last year before racking up new debt in the coming weeks.

"Buy Now, Pay Later" payment plans are also increasingly popular, with 1 in 5 consumers intending to use them this year. If that’s you, just know that you need to make those payments just like you would on your credit card to avoid any fine print fees or penalties.

Make Credit Card Payments

Credit cards can be an extremely useful tool for large purchases, allowing you to delay payment for nearly a month at a time. Credit cards can also offer perks like reward points, such as uChoose Rewards, cash back, sign-on bonuses, and more. Purchase protection is a big selling point, especially with porch pirates on high alert as Christmas gifts arrive. While it may seem like a great deal, the catch comes the following month in the form of interest. Interest rates in the 25% range often negate any benefits that may have been gained by rewards programs and cash back. Most shoppers – nearly 3 in 4 – will use credit cards to make their gift purchases this year. That spend will total $620 per card on average. Make sure that you plan and budget for payments you can make in full to avoid paying much more in interest.

If you plan to make lots of purchases from one particular store, it may be worthwhile to find out if that store has their own credit card. Store cards often have higher percentages of cash back, generous reward point programs, and come with better return policies.

Shop Local

Prompt shipping is not guaranteed with online purchases, but shopping local removes some of that guesswork! Local and handmade goods can be more unique, personalized, and meaningful than other mass-produced products. A browser extension called Sook will monitor your online shopping and let you know where you can find the same or similar items at stores near you. City newsletters, blogs, and other small publications can also provide some direction. Shopping local benefits your community and the local economy immensely.
We’ll admit, the holidays might look a bit different this year for most of us. Just remember that gifts, food, and decorations are all wonderful hallmarks of the season, but at the end of the day the best thing you can spend is quality time with those you love.