Q: I’m always worried about money during the holiday season, and with inflation soaring, I’m more stressed than ever. How can I save on holiday shopping this year?
A: If you’re worried about making it through the holiday shopping season in the midst of record inflation, you’re not alone. A recent survey shows that 59% of American shoppers are stressed about buying holiday gifts this season due to higher prices. However, with some careful planning and budgeting, you can enjoy stress-free holiday shopping. Here are seven easy ways you can save during this holiday season.
- Shop early
It’s always a good idea to do your shopping early in the season so pressure and crowds don’t cause you to make decisions you’ll come to regret. This year, experts are urging shoppers to hit stores earlier than normally planned so they can take advantage of early season sales. Many big-box stores are struggling with a supply surplus thanks to an inflation-triggered decline in demand. This will likely lead to sales events to make room for more up-to-date inventory. You can take advantage of this surplus by shopping these sales and saving on your holiday purchases.
2. Set a budget
Budgets are for holidays, too. Sit down before doing your shopping to build a reasonable budget for your holiday shopping. Factor in current prices when working out your budget. Of course, this is only half the work – you’ll need to stick to that budget for it to be worth anything. Make this easier by allocating a specific amount for every gift, shopping with cash and/or reviewing your budget frequently as you do your holiday shopping.
- Shop with a list
Instead of hitting the stores blindly, create a list of every gift you plan to buy for friends and family. You can browse online stores for inspiration, but resolve not to start shopping until you have a complete list. You’ll be far more likely to stay within budget when your purchases are pre-planned.
- Leave some last-minute shopping for Green Monday
While it’s best to do the bulk of your shopping early in the season, you can leave some last-minute gift-shopping for Green Monday, which falls on Dec. 14 this year. This is when retailers make their final pre-holiday markdowns. Be prepared for slim pickings, though, so don’t leave any specific gifts for this late in the season.
- Think outside the box when planning your gifts
If ever there was a holiday season to get creative with your gifting, this is it. Retail inventories are full of products that were backed up during the post-pandemic supply-chain disaster. Think furniture, home decor and more. While much of this may not make for typical holiday gifts, there’s no real reason you can’t delight a loved one with a new office chair, exercise bike or coffee organizing station.
- Give gift cards
Protect your gift list against inflation by giving gift cards. You can find discounted cards on sites like GiftCardGranny and CardCash, or use cash-back apps to earn them at no cost. Gift cards are easy to shop for, easy to budget for and always appreciated by the receiver.
- Use apps to save
In 2022, there are so many apps that can help you spend less on your shopping, and even put money back in your pocket. Here are some money-saving apps you might want to download ahead of this shopping season:
- Drop. This free app allows you to link your credit and/or debit card, and shop directly from the app at 300+ retailers. Earn points back on every purchase. Use your points to purchase gift cards.
- Honey. Why pay full price when you can get the same item for less? This coupon-scanning app will automatically find promo codes and coupons for items you’re searching for so you can save on your shopping. You can earn points on purchases made through the app, too.
- Fetch. Earn points on grocery purchases by scanning your receipts after you shop. Redeem points for gift cards.
- Ibotta. Get cash back for your purchases by scanning your receipts with this app. Use for online purchases, and by linking store loyalty cards for in-store purchases, too. Redeem points for cash or gift cards.
Holiday shopping may be a race against inflation this year, but with a little pre-planning, you can complete your shopping with your budget intact. Use the money-saving tips outlined here to get started.
Your Turn: How do you plan to save on holiday shopping this year? Share your best tips and hacks in the comments.