Last-Minute Holiday Shopping: How to Stay Under Budget
If you're concerned about spending a lot over the holidays, you're not alone. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers expect to spend an average of $967 over the holidays — this includes gifts for loved ones, decorations and food.
While it's challenging enough to stay within your budget amid all of the killer end-of-year deals, feeling the pressure with last-minute holiday shopping makes it even more difficult. Here's how you can find the best last-minute finds and stay within budget:
Stick to Your List
To stay under budget, stick to your list of giftees, and get detailed with how much you'll be spending on each person. Besides listing specific items to gift, think of general interests and categories to explore — your aunt may be really into hedgehogs or your cousin may be a huge fan of a popular TV show — that will make it easier to find something at a discount.
Stack Your Savings
Besides finding a great end-of-year deal, stack your savings by using a coupon on top of the discount. Then, use a credit card to score reward points, which will help you save even more. Remember that just because an item is already on sale doesn't mean you can't use a discount code or coupon to get an even better deal.
Shop at Brick-and-Mortar Stores
Because stores are eager to get rid of their inventory, you're more likely to find marked-down items by stepping inside a store. If you're going the brick-and-mortar route and want to avoid running around town looking for the best deals, stick to just a few major retailers to do the majority of your shopping. To save time, you can also check to see if a particular item is in stock, and then reserve it, online.
Look for Free Standard Shipping
You can find free standard shipping deals from online retailers. While this depends on just how last minute your shopping is, you might also be able to take advantage of a free trial that includes standard shipping. You can also save on shipping by having items sent directly to those on your gift list. Or, have your gifts shipped to someone other than the giftee and ask a helper elf to assist in the gift wrapping. Don't forget to ship in the fewest batches possible.
Lower Your Gift Per Budget
If you're cutting it pretty close to your holiday budget, consider lowering the amount you originally allocated for certain people on your list. Then get creative by finding items to meet that budget. To maximize deals, you could snag several smaller gifts at a discount, then bundle them together during shipping.
You might also want to reassess if you need to buy gifts for every single person on your list. For instance, instead of buying something for every coworker in your department, consider buying something everyone can enjoy such as an assortment of baked goodies. If you're shopping for entire families, think of getting a single gift for couples or donate to a charity on behalf of a family.
As far as last-minute holiday shopping goes, you can still get everything done on time and under budget. All it takes is being savvy with how and where you spend your hard-earned dollars during this stressful time of year.