This is a sponsored guest post.
You know you should plan your gifts in advance of the holidays to snap up bargains and avoid last minute panic buying. However, for one reason or another, you end up leaving most if not all of your holiday gift shopping to the last minute when shops are packed with other people who are in a similar situation to yours and prices have jumped to their highest.
Unfortunately, December spending can make you have a huge money hangover in January. According to recent data, people are increasingly incurring debt due to gift purchases. In 2016, 56 percent of holiday shoppers got into credit card debt. That’s more than the 48 percent that incurred debt in 2015. Almost a quarter of millennial shoppers are yet to pay off their debt.
So how can you navigate holiday spending without straining your bank balance? Here are some handy last minute shopping tips.
Make a Plan
No matter how tempting it may be to rush out and buy whatever tickles your fancy, take the time to make a list to help you avoid impulse purchases. Shoppers tend to spend on impulse buys when they’re feeling bored, guilty, angry or stressed — emotions that are commonly experienced during panic shopping for gifts.
Don’t leave your house before making a list of each person you want to gift and how much you’re willing to spend on the presents. Try to set a budget per person. Doing this will not only ensure you don’t forget anyone but also help you avoid getting distracted by shiny items and spending money wastefully.
Shop When Everybody Else Isn’t
Crowds are a big source of shopping stress. They cause long checkout lines and difficulty in finding parking spaces and navigating through stores. And as mentioned earlier, stress can easily make you overspend. Shopping when most people aren’t will significantly reduce your Christmas shopping stress in addition to giving you more time to think and look for what you want.
Many stores are open till late on the days leading up to Christmas. You could do your heaviest shopping at night when crowds are much thinner. What’s more, many shops offer discounts as Christmas Eve nears. So you may get lucky and find the best bargains by shopping late.
Use Your Loyalty Points
If you have a store loyalty card, don’t forget how far the points can go if you’ve been accumulating them for months. Consider deliberately buying at the stores where you have a loyalty card and redeem your points to save on those last minute purchases.
Buy from the Unexpected
If you can’t go to the mall or simply prefer not to, consider making a stop at a specialty or drug store. Many of these stores, such as Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, Staples, stock toys, electronics, and gift cards that you can use at other stores, such as Barnes & Noble and GameStop.
Small, independent stores are also less busy, so you should also consider purchasing last minute presents from them. Their staff has plenty of time to help you find the ideal gift. But that’s not all. If you ask for discounts, these stores are likely to oblige.
E-commerce developers have redefined the modern retail marketplace. The number of people utilizing their facility has hit an all-time high. Some e-commerce experts even claim that it may one day entirely replace brick-and-mortar stores since it’s transforming the daily lives of consumers for the better, like helping them save and avoid panic gift buying at the last minute. Thanks to e-commerce, you can now:
- Access a broader range of products conveniently,
- Make price comparisons,
- Save money, and
- Save time by having goods delivered right to your door.
You can take advantage of the benefits of e-commerce websites to save money during last minute shopping for the holidays, weddings, or any other special event.
Before heading out to the store, be sure to check online for better deals. These days, many shops offer online outlets as well. With your computer or smartphone, you can visit more than 10 online stores within 15 minutes in a manner that’s far less hectic than visiting physical stores.
If you want to buy a particular item such as a branded item, make sure you check out all the possible online retailers before making a purchase. Be on the lookout for sales and specials such as promo codes. Even better, several internet tools — like MegaShopBot — can scan hundreds of online shops to help you locate discounts. Online offers tend to change on a daily basis, so keep checking the internet to hunt down better deals in the days before your deadline.
Many stores offer a click-and-collect service, where you can purchase items online and pick them up from the physical store on the same day, as opposed to having them delivered to your home. Some stores will even offer you discounts for opting for store pickup.
Buy Gift Cards
If time is short and you don’t know what to gift loved ones, buy gift cards. They don’t require much effort to purchase, and they’re certainly much better than getting someone something he or she doesn’t like.
Thanks to e-commerce, you can even send a digital gift card known as an e-gift. Most websites offer this service. You just have to choose an item you wish to buy, like sneakers, click the “Gift Now” or “E-Gift” button, and pay. The recipient will get an email to notify them that you bought a gift. Once the receiver accepts the present, he or she can make changes, such as size and color, before the item ships. Alternatively, they could choose to have a different item altogether.
The above-mentioned tips will help you avoid a splurge and still get something special for the people on your list even at the last minute. In January, you’ll be grateful you followed them once the bills start rolling in.