Holiday Shopping Tips and Best Practices
It’s that time of year again! The 2023 holiday season is upon us, which means gathering with friends and family, special community events, holiday traditions, and lots of shopping. Ultimately, the holiday season can be a time of happiness, joy, or heightened stress. Overall, it is up to you to determine which one it will be. Luckily, Boost Your Score has some helpful tips and tricks for holiday shopping this season that will take your gift-finding experience from problematic to excellent! Between family dynamics, elevated expenses, and heightened stress overall, getting your money under control for the holiday season is essential.
Up to 58% of American adults say holiday stress comes from a perceived lack of funds or overspending. Here at BYS, we want to help you eliminate that stress from your life and give you ways to save this year and in the holidays to come! To do so, we will discuss the importance of setting a budget for holiday spending and how to do so. Next, we will discuss researching products to secure the best deals on holiday gifts for your partner, parents, or kids. After that, we’ll teach you how to shop safely online. Finally, we’ll outline some best practices for setting realistic expectations while buying gifts this holiday.
Budget Holiday Shopping Wisely
Above all else, it is vital to establish a holiday budget for holiday expenses. Think of it as telling your money where to go instead of having control over you. Ultimately, setting a budget is essential because it can help you avoid impulse buys, shop within your means, and decrease holiday stress. When budgeting, it may not be helpful to allocate one dollar amount to holiday spending. You may need to parse it out further into other categories, like holiday decorations, gifts, and payments for holiday events (like seeing Santa or winter carnivals, etc.).
Some sources recommend creating one considerable budget based on a percentage of your income and then dividing that into subcategories of spending. It’s critical to come up with a realistic number. One that is not above your means, and be disciplined enough in your shopping habits to adhere to that number.
In addition to monetary amounts, it is essential to consider payment methods when budgeting. Most money experts will say that “Cash is King” and that it’s wise to pay for your holiday expenses using cash on hand. However, purchasing your holiday goodies with a credit card is always possible if you set up a plan to repay that balance quickly.
Make A List, Check It Twice!
Next, you can shop successfully and cast those money worries away by creating lists for your specific holiday shopping needs. Making a list of people you need to purchase gifts for ensures you stay organized, which keeps you within your budget.
When it comes to your gift list, organizations like Citizens Bank recommend that you divide your list into subcategories (i.e., friends, family, party expenses, etc) to help you prioritize spending your money.
Studies have shown that writing shopping lists and sticking to them helps reduce impulse purchases significantly, which enables you to reduce your spending in the long run. So save your money and keep your sanity. Make those lists!
Doing Your Research On Holiday Gifts
To save money while doing your holiday shopping, it’s imperative to do your research, too. Even though those pesky marketing emails might be annoying, looking through them, finding coupons online, comparing prices, and keeping an eye out for in-store holiday sales will help you stretch your dollar further when shopping for holiday gifts. Shopping sales like Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be helpful.
However, it’s also worth noting that sales will still run after those shopping days, so fear not if you don’t make it to those brick-and-mortar stores the day after Thanksgiving. You can also receive discounts, freebies, and other deals by signing up for rewards programs and marketing emails with the stores you intend to shop at. So, signing up for those around the holiday season is advisable.
Shop Safe, Shop Smart!
For many of us, holiday shopping means lots of card swiping, tapping, and number typing. When using your private information to make purchases, getting those holiday supplies and shopping safely is of the utmost importance. Before online shopping, it is advised to enable two-factor authentication for e-commerce websites and to have strong passwords if you need to use logins for the service. Before making online purchases, verifying the authenticity of the website you are shopping on is also helpful.
The Cybersecurity Infrastructure & Security Agency recommends shopping on secure websites where your information is encrypted. This is indicated by a website URL that begins with “https.” In addition, it is essential to exercise discretion when providing payment information online. This is especially true if you are prompted to do so by an unsolicited email. These are known as “phishing” emails, used to capture your personal and payment information to commit fraud with your identity.
In addition to taking preventative steps before shopping, it is also wise to research the products you plan on buying, so take your time. This is to ensure they are authentic and high quality. The most convenient way to do this is by reviewing customer reviews of the items you intend to buy. You can typically do this on the retailer’s website. Still, reviews from independent bloggers and review agencies are also helpful for big-ticket items like tech, vehicles, or large appliances.
Cites like consumerreports.org and cnet.com are helpful places to start. Another precaution to ensure safe holiday shopping is periodically checking your bank statements to ensure no fraudulent charges are made to your account.
Be Realistic About Your Holiday Spending
The holidays can be highly stressful for many people, and spending money can make it even more stressful. That’s why it is imperative to mentally set expectations and keep them to a specific limit during the holiday season. This is especially true when it comes to spending money. Putting budgets and making shopping lists can help you curb the notion that you need to spend more money or “go bigger” this holiday and every year to come.
All in all, remembering why you’re spending that money is much more meaningful. Enjoying time with family and friends and showing those in your life that you care about them is far more influential than any dollar amount you can spend.
Holiday shopping doesn’t have to be a headache when you follow some simple spending habits. Setting a budget based on a small fraction of your take-home income is best. In addition, making lists of items like gifts, decor, and party expenses helps you decide where your money is going and how much you’re spending. Searching for specific promotions and sales for the items you wish to buy and reading reviews of those items ensures that you get the most value and quality for your money.
When shopping online and in person, doing your research to confirm that a retailer is reputable is helpful. Regularly checking your bank statements is also beneficial to ensure you do not become a victim of fraud. You are being thoughtful, organized, and financially responsible when holiday shopping can help you have a carefree, memorable holiday!
Works Cited/ Sources
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