5 Personal Finance Tips To Survive Holiday Shopping

Despite developing COVID-19 strain stress, inflation woes and the hesitation that many Americans have to ring in yet another new year that doesn’t seem so new, people are planning to spend more this holiday season. A wealth of surveys suggest that consumers are feeling more comfortable shopping in stores and are leveraging their online purchasing power after the wash that was the 2020 holiday season.

In fact, the National Retail Federation is predicting that, as jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring, Americans will spend up to $859 billion this year—the highest holiday retail sales on record. The average American, according to the research, will spend a cool K on the holidays. Similarly, Mass Mutual projects that Americans expect to spend an average of $1,243 on holiday purchases. The survey finds that 42 percent expect to spend at least $500 more than they did last year throughout the holidays, and 25 percent expect to spend at least $1,000 more.

However, not everyone is so quick to jump on the spending sleigh. A Deloitte survey finds that 11.5 percent of people are planning to sit out the season without spending anything on gifts. Those who do plan on going out dancin’ and prancin’ around retail stores are likely bigger earners. High-income households (raking in at least six figures) will spend five-times that of lower-income households (making less than $50,000) this holiday season. They’ll spend an average of $2,624 each over the holidays, which accounts for a 15 percent increase from 2020 and compares to the $536 that each lower-income household will spend, marking a 22{1b90e59fe8a6c14b55fbbae1d9373c165823754d058ebf80beecafc6dee5063a} decline from last year.

After all, according to a NerdWallet report, one in three shoppers still have holiday debt incurred last year hanging over their heads. And a LendingTree survey purports that 41 percent of people anticipate going into debt this season, too.

Wherever you fall on the spending spectrum, debt doesn’t do you well. Follow these personal finance tips for holiday shopping to make jingle bell time a swell time without spilling all your eggnog. 

And don’t forget to check out Q.ai’s Limited Edition Holiday Shopping Kit, which helps you tap into the holiday shopping frenzy in a less conventional way. The Kit considers where everyone else is spending their money, and then allows you to invest in the major retailers that are crushing it this season—so you can get a piece of the pie, err, ginger bread.

1. Build a budget that’ll keep you and your wallet merry.

Holiday shopping without a budget is like going grocery shopping on an empty stomach—but with even more glittering garnish to attract your attention. It’s important to make a budget of how much you can feasibly spend this holiday season without breaking the bank—and to make that budget before you hit the stores. 

2. Make a list, and check it twice.

Make a list of the people for whom you’re shopping, and even include yourself if you know that you’re someone who tends to treat yourself along the way. Consider those to whom you really need to give gifts (perhaps people like your family and your favorite boss) and the people who you’d ideally love to celebrate should you have any budget leftover (like your neighbor down the road).

Once you prioritize these people, give some serious thought as to what exactly you plan to purchase for them. Having a list of what you need to snag from the stores will help hold you accountable and not spend extra dollars (that add up) on that shiny ornament or adorable stocking stuffer you didn’t need. It’ll also help you save money if, for example, you can buy some stuff in bulk—like two-for-the-price-of-one candles for your colleagues. 

3. Ask Santa for better prices.

Once you know what you want to buy, don’t be so quick to do it. Shop around for the best prices. Some shops offer holiday sales or coupons you could collect to shave dollars off the price tag.

While physically going into all the dizzying stores crawling with shoppers can be daunting, you could shop online or call stores ahead of time to see what they have in stock—and for what cost to you.

4. Take advantage of all the holiday miracles.

Look out for little ways to save money here and there, like through shopping cart abandonment. This is an e-commerce term that refers to placing items in your online cart, but not completing the checkout process. Some retails may email you coupons to commit to checking out if they see that you’re sitting on some stuff. 

Also keep an eye out for discount codes that are floating around your social media, which will certainly serve you ads tailored to your online shopping history.

5. Keep your receipts at the ready.

At the end of the day, be sure to hang onto your receipts and collect gift receipts when necessary. The last thing you want to do is waste money on gifts that don’t fit or function properly, which would be a bummer for both the recipient and your wallet.

Keeping your receipts can also help you track your expenses and stay on track of your holiday budget.

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Christopher Lewis

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