7 Tips for Saving Money & Staying Safe During Holiday Shopping
1. Set a holiday budget in advance.
But in reality, about 40 percent of Americans use credit cards to pay for holiday gift purchases. And 25 percent of parents are still in debt from the previous holiday season, according to a recent YouGov Parent Survey.
Still, whether you draw from a savings account to cover holiday expenses or use credit cards that you may or may not pay off at the end of the month, a pre-determined holiday budget can keep you from going overboard on spending.
Essentially, your holiday spending budget is whatever money is left after you account for fixed expenses like your mortgage or rent payment, as well as true expenses like groceries. If you can’t carve out enough extra cash from your budget, you might consider using a credit card for some of your holiday purchases. In this case, it’s even more important to set a limit before you start shopping. Think about what you can afford to repay in one-three months so you don’t end up still in debt by the time the following holiday season rolls around.
2. Make a list of the people you need to shop for.
Just as making a budget in advance helps to limit spending, a gift list of recipients can also protect your wallet, not to mention your stress levels. Decide who you’re shopping for (and who you’re not) and stick to it. That way when you see something cute that would be just perfect for someone who’s not on your list, you can resist the impulse and file the idea away for their birthday.
3. Shop around and compare prices before you buy.
Now that you’ve gone through the trouble of creating a holiday budget, you want to get the most for every dollar you spend. The Internet makes it easy to price check, so take advantage of that to get the best deal. For example, if your child wants a specific toy, you can compare prices at multiple retailers through a simple web search. Wait to make a purchase until the retailer is offering an extra percentage off, which is common starting around Black Friday and lasting through the holiday season.
You can also use a free browser extension like Honey, Camelizer, or WikiBuy to find coupons and special offers and track price changes on specific items. Additionally, you can use an app like Rakuten to earn cash back on your online purchases.
4. Take advantage of shopping cart abandonment.
Shopping cart abandonment is an e-commerce term to describe website visitors who put one or more items in an online cart or bag but never complete the checkout process. Some retailers will email you a coupon if you commit shopping cart abandonment on their site. So, it may be worth trying to see if you can get an extra discount on items you’re already planning to purchase.
5. Hang on to your receipts.
The last thing you want is to be stuck with something that doesn’t work or fit. You may also find that you’ve bought too much and want to return a few items before Christmas. In both cases, your receipts are your ticket to a refund. Some retailers offer emailed receipts, which is a convenient option for holding on to them without having to save a physical piece of paper.
6. Protect your identity.
- Don’t make online purchases over public wi-fi. Open networks aren’t secure like password-protected ones, so don’t log into your bank account, shop online, or perform any other sensitive web actions at the library or coffee shop.
- Beware of links offering discounts or deals that seem too good to be true. Cybercriminals increasingly use phishing messages, which imitate legitimate businesses and prompt you to click on a link that will either steal your personal information or download malware onto your computer.
7. Keep gifts safe from thieves.
We always support shopping local; however, if you do shop online, beware of “porch pirating." So, if you’re going to order some of your gifts online, take the following precautions to keep them out of the hands of thieves.
- Get stuff delivered to your workplace instead of your home.
- Designate an at-home neighbor to accept packages for you.
- Have boxes held at your local post office for pick-up.
- Use the “ship to store” or Amazon locker option.
- Request signature confirmation upon delivery.
- Add instructions to leave the box on a back porch, or other less visible space, instead of your front steps.