The holidays are here. Hot on the heels of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, we turn our attention to the biggest shopping occasion of the year: Christmas.
Studies show many consumers actually started their Christmas shopping early this year. According to Forbes Magazine, 3 in 10 shoppers started putting on their Santa hats way back in October.
With COVID-19 and all the uncertainty of 2020, people are turning to online shopping more than ever before. In fact, CNBC predicts a 35% surge in e-commerce sales by the end of the year.
While online shopping will certainly be great for your convenience, it can be dangerous for impulse buying. With the right planning, however, you can make this your most stress-free (and most affordable) Christmas ever.
Here are 5 ways to holiday shop on a budget:
1. Make A List (And Set Limits!)
More than 80% of shoppers overspend budgets by $215 during the holiday season.
How can you avoid this trap? Be like Santa: make a list, check it twice, and stick to it.
Start by putting a limit on your total spending. Decide which specific people you’re shopping for, and include additional expenses like shipping costs, wrapping paper, decorations, holiday outfits and more. It’s the little things that add up and slowly break the bank.
When it’s finally time to start shopping, stay disciplined and stick to your list.
Shop early in the day, and avoid browsing the web at night. Seriously. Studies show a sharp rise in online shopping after midnight, and those trends tend to spike around the holidays.
And when you do shop, keep your list handy and stay focused. Sites like Amazon and Target sneakily advertise tempting items left and right, but resist the urge to add them to your cart.
Your wallet will thank you in 2021.
2. Get Money Back (On Your Computer!)
Convenience isn’t the only advantage of completing your Christmas shopping online.
You can also get money back on your purchase —straight from your internet browser!
Here are two great ways to amplify your online savings:
- Honey: This powerful (and free!) internet extension works while you shop. So whether you’re browsing Best Buy or Bath and Body Works, Honey searches for promotional codes and discounts for all the items in your cart. Members save an average of $126 per year from over 30,000 participating merchants. Click here to add to your browser!
- RetailMeNot: By finding special discounts and deals, RetailMeNot focuses on combining multiple offers so you always get the lowest price on the market. With over 400 cash back offers, RetailMeNot helps you get something back every time you give. Click here to add to your browser!
Check out this complete list of popular browser extensions, and be sure to download them before you start shopping.
3. Start Shopping Early
Don’t wait until Christmas Eve! Starting early is the easiest way to save money when shopping on a budget.
By starting the process early, you protect yourself from impulse-buying. And when you find exciting gifts that seem a bit too expensive, you’ll be able wait to buy them until possible sales go into effect.
In fact, given the global pandemic, many of the biggest shopping sales of the year were postponed. For example, Amazon Prime Day was pushed from the summer to mid-October. That event effectively started holiday shopping over a month ahead of schedule.
Many companies are advertising additional flash sales to make up for lost revenue. Keep an eye out for the best Green Monday deals, which offer great last-minute Christmas discounts starting December 14th.
Buy yourself extra time to shop and stay patient for sales. You won’t regret it.
4. Try a Secret Santa Exchange
Large families can make Christmas shopping expensive, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of buying a gift for every one of your nieces and nephews, consider setting up a Secret Santa gift exchange that gets the whole family involved.
With this simple format, you set a spending cap on gifts so everyone agrees to spend roughly the same amount. Everyone then draws a random name and shops exclusively for that person. After opening their presents, the recipients then have to guess who gave them their gifts.
Secret Santa is a great way to keep the mystery high, and costs low.
5. Pay Cash (Or Use a Prepaid Card)
Credit cards are convenient, but when it comes to Christmas, they can be costly.
If you’re shopping in person, always try to pay with cash. Or if you’re shopping online, load up a prepaid card to track and limit your spending. By using a prepaid card, you’ll always be encouraged to stay within the confines of your shopping list and budget.
While it’s always possible to reload prepaid cards, the punitive fees will serve as a deterrent.
For a side-by-side comparison of the best prepaid cards on the market, click here.
When it comes to Christmas shopping, uLink has you covered.
With great exchange rates and fees starting as low as $0, uLink helps you send money home for the holidays in a fast and affordable way.
Plus, after your 1st, 2nd, and 5th transactions, we’ll send you a $10 gift card to use at your favorite retailers. That’s $30 in gift cards after your first five transactions with uLink.
Miles from home — just moments away with uLink.