Holiday shopping: friend or foe? Unless you’re independently wealthy, shopping for the holidays can take a major bite out of your savings if you’re not smart about it. November is nearly halfway over, and chances are, many of us feel like we may have missed the boat to start early. Good news: there’s still time to protect your cash on hand, even if you’re on a tight budget. Ready to ring in 2020 with less credit card debt? Follow these simple steps below to master how to shop for the holidays without breaking your budget.
Holiday Shopping Budgeting Tips
Put away $50 a week until Black Friday
I personally like to have a holiday expense slush fund and transfer $50 every two weeks to my savings account. No worries if you’ve waited until this week: many retailers continue to have price drops throughout December. Commonly, the second week of December brings new deals and price drops! Need to do less? $30-40 is a great place to start. Doing this ensures you can at least make a lump sum payment on your credit card right after making purchases. I use TrueBill to manage my budget and get real-time visibility into my monthly spending. It also tracks subscriptions you may not know you’ve been paying for, which can help push more cashback into your bank account!
Space out your purchases every two weeks
No one likes to drain their bank account with one giant holiday shopping spree. It’s not sustainable and only adds to the stress the holiday season brings. I like to plan my purchases like I do errands: spreading out different expenses week to week. If you know you’ll be paying rent and bills at the beginning of the month, aim to shop 2 weeks later to ease the stress on your credit card.
Make a holiday shopping Google spreadsheet for gifting
This is the single most important way to really get a hold of your finances and stay on track. It takes less than 5 minutes to make, and I make a list of the people I am buying for, links to possible gift ideas/gift guides, and a mark to check off when purchased. I personally love to use Google Sheets since you can access it right from your phone app. Too busy to buy? Those hyperlinks to ideas make it easier to shop on the fly! For an added help to your budget, aim to make small purchases every couple of weeks as you’re able. It will keep you from racking up recurring debt, and allow you to pay it off in smaller bites.
Plan your shopping around seasonal sales/reward season
I do this for the Sephora and Carbon38 sales, mainly so I can stock up on small gifts for others and also grab something for myself. You also followed suit this year at last week’s Sephora sale! I highly recommend stocking up on gift cards at a discount: you can give them, or use them to purchase and save without sales from the retailers you’re holiday shopping from.
Look for other creative ways to save by downloading shopping apps with exclusive sales throughout the holiday season. For example, I post exclusive content to my LikeToKnowIt profile related to app-exclusive deals and sales. You’ll get instant updates on flash sales for stocking stuffers, and major items to gift in the upcoming month. It’s also an easy way to narrow down options for things you’re looking for: you can search things like “holiday dress” or “retinol serum” and find options and reviews by other creatives like me. If you’re not an app person, use it for the holiday season, then get rid of it. It’s completely free and worth the extra work to download it and save some extra cash.
Photography by Mari Uchida