Forget everything you knew about the rush of getting up at 4 a.m. on Black Friday, suiting up in your warmest gear, and eagerly waiting for that glorious moment when the big glass doors to your favorite department store opened for Doorbuster Sales. While that tradition may remain for some this year, many consumers are discovering the joys of a whole, new world of early holiday shopping and new ways to make purchases. In addition to the customary practices of in-store and online shopping, retailers large and small are offering shopping by appointment, customized virtual shopping assistance, home delivery, and curbside delivery to help their customers feel comfortable shopping during COVID-19. With an early start to holiday shopping, and a greater variety of shopping options, sticking to your holiday budget may be more challenging than ever, but don’t worry. You can shop and support the economy without overspending. You just need a new gameplan. No matter where you are in the process, here are few strategies to help you stay true to your holiday budget. Ready. Set. Shop!
- Take a page from Santa’s book: Make a list, and check it twice. Staying organized is key to staying on budget. If you’re not in the habit of making a gift list, this may be the year to start, especially if you’re planning to do more online shopping. With suggested add-ons popping up with every click, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of marketing and overspend on items you don’t really need. Make a list of everyone to whom you want to send a gift, along with your top 3 gift ideas for each. This list will become the foundation for your holiday budget.
- Build a holiday budget with deadlines. Figure out how much you can afford to spend this year, be realistic, and remember that your loved ones don’t expect you to overextend yourself to show that you care. (You may actually have more to spend than you initially thought if you’re not traveling or attending parties this year). Also, if you start shopping earlier than usual this year, give yourself a deadline to stop shopping. Otherwise, you risk falling into the trap of continuing to shop and blowing your holiday budget completely. Early shoppers will also need to resist the urge to give gifts early, which can spur a second round of shopping to fulfill that need to have another gift ready for Christmas Day or Hanukkah. An added bonus of giving yourself an end date to shopping: you’ll have less stress, and more time to relax and engage in activities that bring you joy during the holidays.
- Use technology for comparative pricing. The sales are starting earlier this year, which means you can strategize your way into big savings if you do your homework. Download apps to help with comparative pricing, such as ShopSavvy and PricePirates, and start couponing 2020-style with services such as Honey and Rakuten. Sign up for seasonal sales alerts with services like com and the KrazyCouponLady to find the best deals on gifts.
- Consider the benefits of shopping local.Many consumers are more mindful of how, and where, they’re spending this holiday season. If supporting local is important to you, be sure to follow your favorite independent businesses on social media, and look for local shopping and dining directories published by cities and boroughs, business associations, Main Street organizations, Chambers of Commerce, and economic development organizations. Many local retailers and restaurants are offering competitive sales and incentives. These purchases can make a big difference in the small business community, and allow you to stay within your budget while boosting your local economy.
- Save with DIY gifts that are priceless. With more families celebrating at home this year, DIY gifts are a great way to spend time together and make meaningful, budget-friendly gifts for family and friends. From cookie trays and candy boxes, to handmade ornaments, sachets, and bath bombs, there are countless ways to make great gifts at home. For ideas, check out 75 DIY Christmas Gifts to Add Creativity and Heart to Your Holiday and 85 DIY Christmas Gifts That'll Mean so Much to Your Friends and Family.
- It’s never too early to start planning for next year. To make saving for the holidays easier, many banks, including Fidelity, offer All-Purpose Savings Clubs. Designate an amount to be deducted from your checking account and transferred into your All Purpose Club account. You’ll benefit from a competitive interest rate, and gradually build a fund for the holidays in 2021.
Fidelity Bank has built a strong history as trusted advisors to clients served, and is proud to be an active member of the community. With 20 branches located throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley, Fidelity Bank offers full-service Trust & Investment Departments, a mortgage center, and an array of personal and business banking products and services. The Bank provides 24 hour, 7 day a week service to clients through a variety of digital banking tools, branch offices, online at www.bankatfidelity.com, and through the Customer Care Center at 1-800-388-4380.
Daniel J. Santaniello, President, and CEO, of Fidelity Bank, publishes Financially Fit with Fidelity, your guide to financial well-being, every Thursday. If you’re interested in a financial topic we haven’t yet covered or want to subscribe to our emails, please feel free to drop us a line at blog at fddbank dot com. We would love to hear from you.