Merry Christmas, Happy Holi-daze!

Sales and specials and limited time offers, oh my!  It’s that time of year again when holiday shoppers are gearing up for the big gift giving season.  Given the special circumstances we face today, traditional shopping and spending is so 2019.

You’ve likely seen some of these adjustments and changes already apparent in the holiday advertising and marketing campaigns.  Many stores opted to forgo the wild “Black Friday” shopping experiences in favor of a more drawn out timeframe of deals.  To adhere to necessary distancing and capacity concerns, many are also extending store hours to offer shoppers a more flexible schedule.  And of course, our inboxes are now overflowing with emails trumpeting new and better online shopping offers. 

Each holiday season brings with it a chance to exchange gifts with friends and family in a showing of love and appreciation.  While our holiday celebrating, along with everything else this year, is going to look a little different, we may still find ourselves overwhelmed by the lists and costs associated with the most wonderful time of the year!

With that in mind, here are a few financial savvy tips and tricks to keep in mind when doing your holiday shopping.

#1 - Make your list...and check it twice! 
Write it all out.
Start by making a comprehensive list of all expected holiday expenses - gifts, wrap, decorations, baking ingredients, cards, and party supplies should all be accounted for.   Keep detailed lists of items needed and reference often while shopping, either in person or online.  Following the list line-by-line will keep you on track and keep unnecessary, or frivolous, items off the bill.  

#2 - And so I'm offering this simple phrase, To kids from one to ninety-two, Although it's been said many times, many ways...Budget!
Create a budget and stick to it.
Shoppers start off with the best of intentions when it comes to holiday budgeting but that can quickly get lost in the hustle and bustle.  Before you start shopping, identify the resources you have available and set priorities.  Next, set limits on the amount you can afford to spend on gifts at the individual or family level.  Keep receipts to track total spending and revisit regularly to be sure you’re on target.  Do not deviate, no matter how good that deal seems! 

#3 - It's beginning to cost a lot like Christmas
Shop around, do some price comparisons.
Once you’ve made your list and created your budget, do your due diligence!  Be sure you thoroughly scour a variety of store advertisements and offerings to identify the best price.  Just because the store says it is on sale, does not always make it so.  Spend some time researching products and comparing prices to be sure you are getting the best available deal.  It might take some extra time but the savings adds up.

#4 – Have a Holly Jolly Cash-mus
Don't fall into the credit trap. 
Plan to start the new year off on the right financial footing.  Instead of using debt to fund your holiday shopping and festivities, make sure you are using available cash.  Using the credit card over and over is an easy way to overspend.  Especially if that information is directly saved to our favorite online shops!  Be intentional about your shopping and maintain good habits of saving during the holidays. 

#5 – Rockin’ around the charity tree!
Give back when you can.
Tis the season of giving!  While we are waiting for Santa to come down the chimney, let’s take a few minutes to reflect on our own blessings and give back to our community in a meaningful way.  Put that holiday savings to good use and make a gift to your favorite charity.  Giving Tuesday may have come and gone but you can still make a difference by giving to those in need this holiday season.

'All I Want for Christmas is You' to have an enjoyable holiday shopping season and hopefully this list will help to make it a little less stressful. Come on, I couldn’t write a holiday post without quoting Mariah. Happy holidays to you and your family!

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