From labor and product shortages to higher prices and shipping delays, this year’s holiday shopping season has the potential to be more stressful — and costly — than usual for consumers.
“Despite the uncertainty and added stress brought on by supply-chain and other pandemic-induced challenges, no doubt many people will get caught up in the spending spirit this holiday season,” said Michael Sullivan, a personal financial consultant with Take Charge America, a nonprofit credit counseling agency. “But overextending yourself doesn’t help you, your family or friends. Smart budgeting and some shopping tricks can get you into the spirit without a financial hangover.”
Sullivan shares six tips to ensure you don’t overspend this holiday season:
• Stick to a budget: Before you start shopping, set your holiday budget, including spending ceilings for everyone on your nice list. Keep your budget realistic and aligned with what you can afford. Stick to the plan by avoiding unnecessary extras or accessories that can add up and easily bust your budget.
• Buy last year’s model: From TVs to mobile phones, manufacturers introduce new models every year. But for most people, the latest and greatest features don’t justify the extra cost. Gift last year’s model to save on devices and gadgets.
• Look for online coupons: When shopping online, take some time to search for promo codes on sites like Groupon, RetailMeNot and Honey. Many services also offer browser plugins that automatically detect discounts as you shop at various online stores.
• Use price comparison tools: When shopping online, use price comparison tools like Google Shopping, BizRate or NexTag. Some sites even allow you to set up alerts for when items hit a certain price. If shopping in-store, download apps like ShopSavvy or RedLaser that let you scan product barcodes to check prices on items at other retailers.
• Ask about price matching: Many stores will match competitor prices to keep from losing a sale. You just need to ask. Generally, you must provide proof of the lower price, usually in a newspaper flier or online deal.
• Consider non-traditional gifts: Rather than spending money on a gift, consider offering your time or talent. Perhaps you’re crafty, love babysitting or would extend some manual labor.
For additional resources on how to save during the holidays and throughout the year, explore Take Charge America’s Budget Tools.
Founded in 1987, Take Charge America, Inc. is a nonprofit agency offering financial education and counseling services including credit counseling, debt management, student loan counseling, housing counseling and bankruptcy counseling. It has helped more than 2 million consumers nationwide manage their personal finances and debts. To learn more, visit takechargeamerica.org or call (888) 822-9193.