The holiday shopping season seems to start earlier and earlier every year. Come October, and the most eager of stores are already popping up Christmas trees, twinkling lights, and holiday decorations for sale. Before long, the shopping craze will set in fully, Christmas carols ringing in the ears of shoppers filling malls across America.
Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and last minute holiday deals in late December—it’s no wonder Americans are spending a decent chunk of change buying gifts for the holiday season. Holiday spending is expected to increase by 4.1% in 2018.
According to the National Retail Federation , consumers plan to spend approximately $1,007.24 this year, up from $967.13 in 2017.
With the barrage of seasonal sales and holiday advertisements, impulse spending on decorations and gifts are almost guaranteed. And with the spike in sales around the holiday, it’s no surprise that fraud and identity theft are also at their peak during the holidays. During the 2017 holiday season, fraud attempts increased by 22% from Thanksgiving to December 31st.
So how are you supposed to get the perfect gift for everyone on your list, while also holiday shopping on a budget? With some careful planning, you can maximize your holiday spending, avoid holiday shopping scams, and keep your budget on track. Use these holiday shopping tips to conquer your gift list, with time to spare so you can enjoy the festive season with family and friends.
Set a Budget and Start Saving Early
If you’re trying to limit your holiday spending, set a budget. Make a list of who you plan to shop for, some gift ideas, and a spending limit for each person. Having a plan of action when it comes to holiday shopping on a budget will go a long way in ensuring you stay on track.
A great way to supplement your budget? Start saving for holiday shopping early. Try saving even just $30 a week toward your holiday shopping expenses. Having a nest egg of cash to spend on gifts can help you stick to your budget and avoid additional holiday-related credit card debt.
One option is to have a dedicated savings account for your holiday savings. SoFi Money® is a cash management account that offers easy access to your money. You can spend, save, and earn, all in one product, so it’s easy to track your budget and keep your holiday spending on track.
Be a Savvy Sale Shopper
The holidays are full of cheer, cozy gatherings, family, friends, and some pretty deep discounts and holiday sales. One of the best holiday spending tips is to have an idea of how much each item you plan to purchase should cost.
That way you know when you’re getting a great deal, or if the so-called super sale really isn’t that super. If you see what you think is a great sale but want to double check before you buy—take a look online at a price comparison site to get an idea of the going rate for an item.
If you find a cheaper price on the item consider ordering from that retailer or ask the store you are shopping at if they offer price matching. A lot of retailers will offer a price match if you can provide documentation of a lower price at one of their competitors.
Become a Couponer
Another holiday spending tip that can help you stick to your budget—become a couponer. If something is already on sale, use a coupon or online coupon code to amplify the savings even further.
Some coupons and certain stores will have policies in place to prevent aggressive couponing, but for the majority of stores, you could stand to score some serious savings by taking the time to find a coupon that applies to your purchases.
While you’re on the hunt for coupons for your purchases be aware of any suspicious coupons . There are quite a few sites that deal solely in providing users coupon codes to use while online shopping and thieves have caught on.
As you’re browsing for online coupons, be sure to never enter any personal information. Legitimate coupon sites won’t require you to buy something or enter personal information to gain access to the coupon code.
Consider signing up for the email list of your favorite stores or the stores where you plan to do the majority of your holiday shopping. Often stores will send sale alerts and coupon details via email to their loyal customers, so it can pay to subscribe.
When you do, be sure that you’re subscribing to the official store list. Phishing is an extremely popular online scam around the holidays, so be aware of any emails that seem suspicious or offer deals that seem unrealistic.
When you shop online you can avoid the crowds, long lines, and busy parking lots of the mall. You don’t even need to leave your house, let alone the comfort of your couch. Online shopping is expected to grow in popularity again this year, and it’s expected to account for 57% of all purchases .
Online shopping offers fast, easy, convenient, and nearly hassle-free shopping for customers who would prefer to spend time by cozying up by the fire. Around the holidays there are often online only discounts that can help you keep your holiday budget on track.
As you’re shopping online be sure to avoid popular holiday scams. When shopping online, it’s best to stick with reliable and trusted retailers. If you see an incredible deal from an unknown site there’s a very good chance it is just too good to be true.
Before you make a purchase with an online retailer you’ve never heard of take the time to do a little research. You can protect yourself by looking up the retailer at the Better Business Bureau. You can also do a quick web search to read other customer reviews or complaints about the company.
Be suspicious of retailers that offer extremely low prices and don’t offer an address or phone number. The goal here is to avoid giving your credit card information to a scammer, who could then use your credit card or sell your information to another scammer.
As your shopping this holiday season, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your credit card and bank statements to make sure there is no suspicious activity. If you see any purchases you didn’t make, contact your credit card company immediately.
Take Advantage of Free Shipping
One of the great perks of online shopping these days is a large number of retailers that offer free shipping. Some retailers even offer free 2-day shipping around the holidays to encourage you to order last minute gifts online and compete with large online retailers like Amazon.
Sometimes though, there can be issues when gifts arrive late, or even worse—not at all. Dishonest vendors will sometimes promise an item is in stock and able to arrive by your desired date when in reality it’s not. To avoid this, pay attention to where the item is shipping from, and order from reliable and trusted retailers .
Another reason packages never seem to arrive? Theft. If you’re concerned about package theft in your area there are a few options. Consider having the package delivered to work, if allowed by your employer. This way there will be someone there when the package arrives.
Another option is to have packages delivered to a pickup location offered by the retailer or carrier. For example, Amazon gives you the option to have packages delivered to an Amazon locker, where you can then pick up the package using a code. This could decrease the chances of package theft and comes at no extra cost.
Simplify Your Holiday Budget with SoFi Money
You’ve made your shopping list and checked it twice. You’re ready to hunt down all the best deals. If you’re looking for a way to make your holiday shopping even easier, consider opening a SoFi Money cash management account.
Plus, when your money arrives at our partner banks it is FDIC insured.
There are no account fees (subject to change) and you can open a SoFi Money cash management account in less than a minute. With SoFi Money you can track your spending and savings to ensure you are staying within your holiday shopping budget.
Ready to elevate your savings? Open a cash management account with SoFi Money today.
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Each business day, cash deposits in SoFi Money cash management accounts are swept to one or more sweep program banks where it earns a variable interest rate and is eligible for FDIC insurance. FDIC Insurance does not immediately apply. Coverage begins when funds arrive at a program bank, usually within two business days of deposit. There are currently six banks available to accept these deposits, making customers eligible for up to $1,500,000 of FDIC insurance (six banks, $250,000 per bank). If the number of available banks changes, or you elect not to use, and/or have existing assets at, one or more of the available banks, the actual amount could be lower. For more information on FDIC insurance coverage, please visit www.FDIC.gov . Customers are responsible for monitoring their total assets at each Program Banks to determine the extent of available FDIC insurance coverage in accordance with FDIC rules. The deposits in SoFi Money or at Program Banks are not covered by SIPC.
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