Q: With prices on so many goods still at record highs, I’m getting anxious about this year’s holiday shopping. How can I beat inflation and save on holiday shopping?
A: Yes, costs are up across the board, but steep price tags do not need to lead to a busted budget. With the right tools and the willingness to make changes to your shopping habits, you can beat inflation to save on holiday shopping this year. Here are five tips to get you started.
- Set a budget – and keep it
The best way to keep your spending in check is to spend with a plan. Make a clear budget for the holiday season, including all expenses you expect to encounter, like gifts, decor items, travel and hosting-related costs. Be sure to set an anticipated dollar amount for each one. Don’t be afraid to set amounts that seem like a stretch. Challenge yourself to lower your holiday spending and find creative ways to make the season festive without landing deep in debt. You can do it!
- Look for deals and discounts
Inflation may have wreaked havoc on your monthly budget, but thankfully, it did not destroy the gift of the discounted item. You can still find great deals on gift items and experiences, as well as coupons to automatically bring down the price. The best way to take full advantage of this savings technique is to know the calendar and have the right tools. For example, electronic devices will go on sale in late November, while toys are always marked down during the weeks just before Christmas. It’s also a good idea to sign up for emails and other alerts from your favorite retailers to find out when they’re hosting a sale so you can grab what you need at a lower price. Finally, consider using cash-back apps, like Ibotta and Shopkick, to put more money back in your pocket.
- Give fewer gifts
Take a good look at your list of gift recipients and see where you can make some cuts. Do you really need to swap gifts with every coworker, second cousin and around-the-corner neighbor? To keep feelings positive, suggest a secret Santa exchange for social groups in your life, such as the people you work with, so you only need to buy one gift for an entire group of people. You’ll likely be putting more joy back into many people’s holidays with this suggestion.
- Give a gift card
While not the most personal gift, a gift card is a great way to give value at less cost to you. You can purchase discounted gift cards on sites like CardCash and Sam’sClub, with some cards slashed as much as 25%. Some sites offer to personalize the card with your own writing, and to wrap it up prettily for you to give as a gift.
You can also search gift card sites for cards to the retailers at which you plan to do your holiday shopping and then use the cards yourself. This way, you’ll be adding funds to your holiday budget and stretch your dollar further.
- Give an experience
When thinking of holiday gift ideas, don’t limit yourself to traditional presents or even gift cards. Think beyond gifts you can touch and add some experiences to your gift list. For example, you can “gift” a child with a free day off from school, treat your partner to an in-house spa night and offer to whip up your friend’s favorite home-cooked meal, any time they need it. Present these gifts as homemade “gift cards” with elaborate fonts and wrapped in pretty ribbons. Think carefully when choosing an experience that will make the recipient the most happy and your gift may just be their favorite of the entire season.
Don’t let inflation be the Grinch this holiday season. Use these tips to beat high prices and save on your holiday shopping.
Your Turn: How are you going to beat inflation this holiday season? Share your secrets in the comments!