How to get a head start on budgeting for holiday shopping (and shipping) in advance

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Now that the holidays are approaching again, it’s time to start planning (and budgeting) your festivities. While this often involves travel, it almost always involves shopping. And for some, that means all the stress that comes with it: long lines, crowded stores, and limited inventory.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be. As financial experts reveal, with a little planning, you can get a head start on holiday shopping (and shipping) and avoid much of that overspending – and excess stress. Here’s a look at what they had to say.

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Plan ahead

Planning will be more crucial this year as the United States Post Office recently rolled out a new cost-cutting structure that will increase costs and slow down shipping times. This means if you are sending your gifts over a long distance, give yourself at least a few extra days before they show up.

You may also want to consider other options, like FedEx or UPS, or even ship the items directly from the supplier to the recipient. If you choose this route, it’s a good idea to research what the retailer charges for wrapping the gifts. Especially if you don’t want to spoil the big surprise.

Earn cash rewards

Shopping is usually inevitable during the holiday season, and one way to prepare is to look for specials where you can get cash back for what you spend, which can be used towards more freebies. Or, maybe, even yourself.

“Whenever you shop, be sure to click on a cash back site like CouponCabin to earn cash on your vacation purchases (or any purchase for that matter),” said Money Saving Expert. Andrea Woroch. “Even if you prefer to buy in person, ordering online and opting for in-store pickup ensures you get these items the same day while enjoying cash back only available to online shoppers. ‘apply to other Christmas gifts and seasonal purchases!’

Woroch also recommended that shoppers “check the cash back amount for each retailer who sells the item you want to buy and buy from the site that offers the most returns to maximize rewards.” It may take a little longer, but it can lead to big savings.

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Spread purchases

Another way to avoid this December crisis period is to start shopping as early as possible. This way you won’t be wasting your time on Christmas.

“Instead of trying to save money every week, spread your purchases and buy one gift per week,” Woroch advised. “It allows you to better manage your cash flow so you don’t have to worry about trying to buy everything at the same time in December. Also, I find that people are not as diligent in putting money in a separate account every week, so this is a more feasible alternative.

Likewise, you can look for Afterpay or other types of layaway plans (ideally with little to no interest) that also help ease that holly and merry spending burden.

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Get a new credit card

It might seem counterintuitive considering that most types of financial advice avoid you exactly that thing, but as Woroch pointed out, there are some perks to be had when opening new cards for holiday purchases. .

“Opening a new credit card will often allow you to make interest-free purchases – some for up to 21 months – so it saves you more time paying for your holiday gifts without earning interest,” he said. declared Woroch. “Additionally, some cards will give you a cash bonus when you spend a certain amount of money in the first three months and it can be very useful for paying off some of your holiday purchases.”

Think outside the box (gift)

Less conventional gifts are never a bad idea, and as restrictions on things like travel and public gatherings have started to ease, spending time with someone can be just as rewarding as buying a gift. for him.

“Experiences are always an unexpected and thoughtful gift idea, and I think the world is starting to look kind of normal, people are looking for fun activities,” said Geneviève Bellaire, Founder and CEO of Real world. “Also consider intangible products like Spotify, Audible, Masterclass, or a TV network subscription, most of which are paid in monthly installments. “

So buying someone a Spotify subscription that costs $ 10 a month for a year becomes a $ 120 giveaway that’s also a manageable expense, or as Bellaire explained, “It’s a giveaway that keeps on going. offer and allows you to manage your budget!

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Presence on gifts

After nearly two years of dealing with the stress and uncertainties of a global pandemic, people have started to re-prioritize. Now that people can travel more safely and more places allow visitors, time spent together can be one of the most rewarding gifts of all.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more money to travel with loved ones and spend less on real gifts,” Bellaire said. “Being together is a gift in itself! When it comes to financial planning, I suggest taking a look at your budget now and pulling out any non-essential expenses that might be reserved for holiday shopping or travel.

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Respect your budget

Whatever your plans are, there’s a good chance you’ll be spending money, and it’s important not only to budget, but also to stick to it before you let things get out of hand.

“When you’re in the holiday spirit, it can be easy to get carried away with the in-store sales and the gifts you want to buy; However, it’s important to stick to your budget when shopping for Christmas gifts, ”said Tony Wahl, Sesame’s credit Director of Operations. “When shopping for the holidays, try to stick to the 30% rule (keeping your total credit card balance below 30% of your credit limit). “

“Since the use of credit is one of the biggest factors affecting your credit score, you may see your credit score go down if you accumulate a higher balance. The holidays can also be a popular time for potential fraud activity, so keep an eye out for any inaccuracies on your credit report so you can report them immediately.

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Last updated: October 28, 2021


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