Festive & Frugal:
How to Spend Wisely
on Holiday Shopping

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Raise your hand if you feel you’ve been personally victimized by 2020.

Source: Google Images via Medium

*everyone on planet raises hands* 

Adapted Mean Girls quotes aside, it’s no secret 2020 has been tough in a number of ways. The global pandemic (ugh, so tired of that word!) has taken a serious toll on us physically, emotionally, and financially. Nearing the end of the year, COVID-19 is still hanging around like a dark storm cloud over our beautifully planned outdoor BBQs. It just rains — more like hails softballs — on everything!

COVID has taken a lot from us this year, but it won’t take our jolly holiday season! The holidays may look different, and your wallet probably looks a bit different, too. This August 2020 poll from Morning Consult showed that although only 20% of Americans are explicitly worried about their finances, a whopping 67% plan to cut back on holiday spending to reserve funds. (Read the full article here — it’s got pretty charts!) 

You may be thinking, Heck yeah, I am cutting back, but how do I realistically do that without sacrificing? Well, my financially savvy friend, check out our quick tips below to spend less on holiday spending this year. 

Figure out your budget. 

Step one should sound familiar if you’ve been with Budget Blueprints for a while: budget. You need a road map of where you’re going to get where you’ve planned. Someone else put it this way: “A lack of planning now creates a financial headache in January.” Because budgets are likely extra tight this year, take a close look at where your financial priorities lie right now, then decide where to wiggle to find some cash for holiday spending, if possible. 

Need more help? Learn how to set up a holiday budget here.

Shop small.

More than 60% of Americans like to complete their Christmas shopping online (Fortunly). I get it; why go out in the cold when you can sit in your reindeer pants and sip hot cocoa? But, how much extra are you spending on shipping costs when you shop online? Not every site can be Amazon, so you’re bound to run into shipping costs somewhere.

Shopping at local businesses not only helps you find a unique gift and supports your local economy, but it also saves you big time on shipping costs. Throw on a mask and look for local deals first before shopping online. 

Shop sooner. 

COVID has significantly impacted the shipping and supply chains. Shopping early this year not only ensures your gifts will arrive on time but also guarantees that you’ll snag a gift at all. Retailers are anticipating limited restocks and basic economics says that as the demand for an item increases, so does the price for that item. (Do you remember how much HAND SANITIZER was in March of this year??) 

Perhaps a small silver lining of the pandemic is that retailers started their Black Friday sales earlier than usual, so it’s easier to shop early and still get the best deals. If you are shopping online, consider direct shipping the gift to the recipient’s house to save on shopping delays and costs. (This strategy also bodes well for friends and families forgoing their traditional seasonal gatherings.)

Lean on your village. 

Pandemic or not, some years just reveal a smaller margin of funds to be spent on Christmas, and that is okay! A happy Christmas does not always have to come from your pocketbook. For many, the holiday season means generosity season, and there are plenty of kind individuals out there who would love to assist you in creating a happy Christmas for your family. Contact local agencies and communities to apply for Christmas assistance. Reach out to your local Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, churches, and Angel Tree campaigns to see if your family can be sponsored. Check out the United Way 211 resource line to search for programs in your area. 

Gather for a community Christmas. 

Got a large family or a lot of friends? Consider a new tradition this year for Christmas to avoid purchasing gifts for every person. This might look like trying a White Elephant exchange, drawing a name out of a hat, or going in together for a gift for the whole family. (I know, I know, sometimes change can be hard, but if there’s any year to embrace it, 2020 takes the cake!)

Better yet, what about a gift pool? Say each person that is involved in the pool contributes whatever amount they can (could be a lot or just a little!) to the pool and then the pot of funds is evenly divided amongst the group. This could also turn into a fun evening of taking the pooled funds and getting all of your holiday shopping done together. 

Spend less in classic ways.

Not every present needs to be bought at full price, or bought at all. Consider shopping the sales and price-matching competitors. Also, consignment or thrift stores are filled with hidden gems just waiting for their new home. What about delicious homemade baked goods? Or if you’re crafty, put those skills to work for a personalized gift that is equally thoughtful and cost-effective.

Are you an extreme couponer? Perhaps you find one to score a discounted gift, or maybe it’s homemade coupon books for your loved ones. You can give coupons for anything. Ideas could be chores, a donation in someone’s name, outings at a later date, or for couples, a coupon book could look a little more x-rated. 😉 

Got a lot of little ones? Try to reduce the number of big purchase items like bikes, playsets, gaming systems, etc. Consider one big purchase that everyone in the family can enjoy. 

Your 2020 Christmas budget might look a little tight this year, but remember these tips to (hopefully) reduce the shopping burden. And whether your holidays are spent spread out around the tree or via Zoom, they will be abundant in joy and togetherness however you decided to do your holiday shopping.

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DISCLAIMER: Although I do have experience in the personal finance field as an Accredited Financial Counselor® professional, I am not a registered financial planner, advisor, or investment agent. Budget Blueprints and any content or resources made available on this site is for informational and entertainment purposes only. I am sharing my personal experience which may not be applicable to others. I am not liable for any losses or damages related to actions or results related to the content in this website. If you need specific financial advice, consult with a licensed professional financial advisor/planner who specializes in your specific need area.