It’s the most wonderful time of the year- but not for your bank account. Stress over stocking stuffers, worries about what to place under the tree, and anxieties about budgeting fall on individual holiday shoppers nationwide like snowflakes. All of these concerns create a snowball effect. It’s easy to overspend if you fail to effectively plan ahead. Being conscientious about how much money to allocate to gift-giving during the wintertime is vital, and following these shopping hacks will ensure that you will not freeze like an icicle under pressure and will be walking in a winter wonderland.
Photo: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
Make a list of who you have to shop for.
One of the simplest and most organized methods in approaching holiday shopping this year is to know exactly who you are shopping for. Create a personalized budget for specific people you are shopping for, that way, it is easier to pinpoint certain splurges you may have to make. Always account for impromptu gift exchanges that you may have with friends or at work. There are always spontaneous get-togethers that have a “white elephant” gift exchange, so it is wise to factor these activities into your budget.
2. Do your research and know the sales.
Having a preconceived notion of what promotions are being offered by each store is savvy shopping. If there is a buy one, get one free sale for a pajama set at a department store, you can save some money by shopping for two friends at the same time. Be mindful of online sales, promotional codes, and coupons to deck the halls without maxing out spending at the mall.
3. Brainstorm a central theme for a gift.
Gift baskets are the cutest packages to give to a loved one, and they are super simple to create. Start by purchasing a basket or a box and placing small items into them that circulate a central theme. Maybe your brother loves superheroes; you can place a new action figure, a comic book, and some Superman socks into the basket. Not only is this idea thoughtful, but it will not break the bank.
4. Be aware of price-match.
Many products that are sold in stores are also sold online, meaning that Amazon is bound to sell a similar model. Most stores advertise that they “price-match,” meaning they will offer a product at the same price that is sold by a competitor. Before giving into impulsive behavior, take the time to research the product online for some sales, especially for electronics. Doing your homework is a great resource during the busiest shopping season of the year.
5. Look for deals outside of large sale days.
While Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be the two days which are advertised on a massive scale, research states that the sales offered on these two days are not quite optimal. Yes, you may be offered some type of promotion or free shipping perk, but it is oftentimes found that suppliers will increase the original price of their product to make it look as if the product is on “sale.” Some stores are on the naughty list, so be mindful that you are not being taken advantage of.
6. Be aware of your spending method.
It is vital to be vigilant regarding which form of tender you are using. If you are using cash for some of your in-store purchases, make sure you have enough stored in an envelope while going shopping to keep all of your bills in one place. If you are using a credit card, look into credit cards with cashback or reward bonuses to save some of your disposable income. Whichever method you choose, plan how you pay based off of your holiday shopping list.
7. Factor in miniature stocking stuffer gifts.
With the holiday season comes its holiday traditions. It is commonplace to see stockings hanging on the outside of apartment or dormitory doors, as well as to purchase a stocking for a loved one and fill it with goodies. Aside from someone’s main present, make sure you account for miniature stocking fillers, such as a bottle of nail polish, a pair of gloves, or a tube of hair product. Budgeting your money based on these “outside” gifts will help to efficiently allocate all of your holiday shopping.
The hustle and bustle of the holiday season does not have to be snowed down in stress. Following these seven tips will surely help to ensure that after your shopping is over, you will be relaxing on the couch by a warm fireplace and a hot cup of cocoa- truly decking the halls.
Victoria Giardina is an 18 student at The College of New Jersey pursuing a Major in Journalism and Professional Writing with a Minor in Communication Studies. Victoria's favorite movie is The Greatest Showman and you can never find her without her planner! As the founder of Kick It Cancer (www.kickitcancer.org) and a news anchor for her campus-wide news station- LTV News, Victoria steps up for community outreach, leadership, and creative storytelling. In the future, Victoria hopes to work in the broadcasting industry in New York City.