The holidays are one of the biggest threats to your bank account. Between entertaining, travel, and spoiling your kids, the usual activities of the season can add up and do a number to your savings. If you value your finances as much as the festivities, you should try these early bird shopping tricks to save you cash this holiday.
- Cash in rewards points
Aeroplan, Target Red, Kroger Plus — these are just some examples of the cards taking up prime real estate in your wallet. There’s a point to cramming your wallet full of plastic. Each time you remember to bring them to the cash register, you can earn points for every dollar you spend — points you can redeem for gift cards or cash back at these retailers. You can use these points to your advantage when you redeem them strategically around the holidays.
- Use credit cards strategically
In the same vein, your credit cards can help you leverage the cash you spend into buying more than their dollar amount. All the major credit card companies offer incentives to encourage you to use these cards more often. These programs usually involve earning points for every dollar spent that you can then redeem for travel or gift cards. If you already do a lot of your shopping with a credit card, you might as well use one that’s working in your favor. You should check your current card against this list to make sure you’re earning as much as possible — just make sure you only spend what you can pay back to avoid interest and late fees.
- Plan early
Planning for the holidays in advance is a simple shopping technique that has a major impact on your mood and finances. It’s all too easy to fall prey to the hectic hustle and bustle of the season when you enter the holidays without a plan. Being organized helps you avoid feeling overwhelmed, so you aren’t stressed out by the time the big day arrives. It also helps protect your budget from last-minute splurges and expedited shipping fees.
Most financial experts suggest you shouldn’t spend more than 1 percent of your income on the holidays. Once you figure out what that percentage represents for your situation, split this number over the 12 months of the year. That’s your holiday saving target for each month. This smaller monthly contribution is easier to accommodate than producing one percent of your income at the end of the year with little preparation.
- Be aware emergencies happen
Plan all you like, it’s improbable you’ll be able to predict all your expenses accurately. Sure, the costs of your gift list and food budget are easy to ballpark, but unexpected damages and their repairs aren’t so simple. Though you may not expect your cousin to fill the dishwasher with regular dish detergent, they might do it accidentally. Though your furnace isn’t that old, it may still breakdown during the coldest months.
Parents who need cash quickly use online installment loans to help them cover small repairs their savings can’t. While traditional banks can take time you don’t have to review and respond to your application, online lenders are responsive. That’s because their online process lets companies like MoneyKey do away with any of the complexities that slow down the average personal loan. In many cases, you can receive your installment loan in one business day, so you can repair your furnace right away without waiting in the cold.
- Bring your phone shopping
Your phone can act as your personal shopper if you download the right apps. Between price comparison programs and cash-back rebates, the world of shopping apps offers a lot of great advantages to the budget-conscious parent. Whether you download an app to earn extra points, use coupons, or tap into rebates, they all amount to one thing: you won’t have to pay full price for the items on your list. It will take some organization to use these coupons and rebates to your full advantage, so you’ll have to plan ahead to make sure your list coincides with the biggest deals. But the time you spend scrolling will pay off — literally.
Shopping for the holidays without tipping into the red can be one of the hardest things you do every year. Few families can manage it, but you can beat the odds by shopping strategically. Remember these tips after the holidays, too. Shopping smart pays off all year round.