You need to start your holiday shopping early this year, experts say. Here’s why and how to save

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It will be another unconventional year for holiday shoppers.

Although it’s not until October, experts say it’s not too early to start planning for the gifts and supplies you might need this holiday season.

“With the pandemic disrupting virtually every part of the manufacturing process and supply chain, and creating labor shortages, retailers will be running out of restocking and shipping orders this year,” says Kristin McGrath, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot, a shopping news and cash back website.

And there may also be more buyers competing for the available stock. Retail sales are expected to increase 7-9% from last year, according to Deloitte’s annual forecast for the holiday season, while e-commerce sales will increase 11-15%. As a result, it may pay off to start shopping early.

To help you stay ahead of the crowd, here are some expert tips to help you save on holiday shopping while keeping your wallet and bank account happy.

Start budgeting early

First and foremost: it’s important to set a budget that you can stick to. This rings true any time of the year, but especially as the holiday season approaches, which often comes with additional expenses.

“Think about where you can make some adjustments to your current budget to make room for vacation spending,” says Andrea Woroch, consumer credit expert. For starters, she recommends browsing your purchases over the past few months or canceling unnecessary subscription services.

And with the deals already running, make sure not only to budget the right thing, but also to have a plan to make it last throughout the season. “Retailers have already started promoting the holiday sales and there is strong pressure to buy sooner than ever to avoid potential supply chain disruptions,” Woroch points out. But “the earlier you start shopping, the more opportunities you have to spend, and this can cause problems for many people’s budgets.”

Woroch suggests using a budgeting app like Santa’s Bag to manage your holiday gift list and track purchases in one place. You can get an overview of how much you spent on holiday shopping by Christmas, versus what you set as your budget.

Buy with the right cash back card Credit card

When you start planning your holiday shopping, ask yourself if you have the right credit card in your wallet to maximize every purchase.

One easy way to do this is to use a cash back credit card that earns a fixed rate on every purchase, such as the Citi® Double Cash Card or Chase Freedom Unlimited®. With flat rate rewards, you can guarantee rewards no matter where you shop. These cards can earn 1.5% to 2% cash back on every purchase, adding value not only during the holidays, but also on your regular daily expenses.

Whichever card you choose, just make sure you have a plan in place to pay off the balance when your statement is due. These cards have very high APRs, so any rewards you earn will be quickly wiped out if you accumulate interest. But with responsible use, saving a little extra cash on your spending can really add up over time and help you save big during the holiday shopping season.

  • Introductory bonus:

    N / A

  • Annual subscription :

    $ 0

  • Regular APR:

    13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (good to excellent)

  • Learn more external link icon on our partner’s secure site.
  • Introductory bonus:
  • Annual subscription :

    $ 0

  • Regular APR:

    14.99% – 23.74% Variable

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (good to excellent)

  • Learn more external link icon on the secure site of our partner.
  • Introductory bonus:
  • Annual subscription :

    $ 0

  • Regular APR:

    14.99% -24.99% (Variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (good to excellent)

  • Learn more external link icon on our partner’s secure site.

Buy online cashback and savings offers

Credit cards aren’t the only way to make money.

There are many cash back services like Rakuten and RetailMeNot which offer bonus opportunities to earn money when you click to buy online. RetailMeNot even hosts its own national retail holiday, Cash Back Day, on November 4th and 5th. We also like browser extensions like Honey, which will automatically add any ongoing promotions that your purchase qualifies for at checkout.

Woroch suggests to always buy online. There are usually more opportunities to save and in many cases you can avoid delays and shipping costs. “With the ability to choose curbside same-day pickup, shopping online gives you a better chance of saving money,” she says. “You can quickly compare prices, search for coupons, and even make money.”

Banks and credit card issuers, including American Express, Chase, and Bank of America, often also have partnerships with large retailers, which can also save you more money. Check your bank or issuer’s mobile app and look for targeted emails with offers you are eligible for. If you are targeted by one of the qualifying offers, you will need to spend a certain amount with the retailer and later receive some in return, or reward points that you can then use for travel.

Between the targeted credit card offers and the potential cash back services, you have the potential to save even more money all year round. You can combine these smart strategies for big savings on top of the deals retailers are already announcing.

Research price fluctuations

It’s easy to get carried away with Black Friday, Cyber ​​Monday, and other big name deals floating around this time of year. But “don’t assume the sale price is the best price,” Woroch says. Instead, compare prices between sites and look for coupons to lower your price even further. If you already know you want to buy a specific item, start browsing the prices now so you can spot a good deal when it appears.

Pro tip

Keep an eye out for communications from your favorite retailers – and if there’s an expensive item you’ve got your eye on, be ready to buy the second their sale goes.

“Knowing how much a potential giveaway costs before the holiday sales rush starts will help you make better buying decisions. Since retailers are constantly fluctuating in prices, it can be difficult to know when a gift is the best or the lowest. Doing the research ahead of time will give you a baseline on which to base this, ”says Woroch.

She recommends sites like that group coupons by store name so you can check if the store you’re shopping from has any offers.

If you are an Amazon buyer, Woroch recommends that you download the Amazon Best Price tool from Cently. It’s a browser extension that not only aggregates coupons, but will also send you an alert when something you’re looking at on Amazon is available from another third-party seller for less. “Since there are thousands of third-party sellers on Amazon that sell the same items, it can be difficult to find the cheapest option,” she points out. “This tool fixes the problem, alerting you when there is a cheaper option for sale on the site.”

McGrath suggests a price history tool called CamelCamelCamel. Similar to the Amazon Best Price tool above, you can use it to search for items and see what prices over time and see if a price is actually low, or just what the retailer is offering every two weeks.

McGrath also cautions buyers not to necessarily take a face value discount. “Retailers are good at advertising huge discount percentages – think 80% off,” she says. “But if that percentage is taken from a high ‘original’ price that is usually not offered, the savings are less impressive. “

Be prepared to buy when you find an offer

All of these tools will help you be better prepared when the right deal fits your budget. And when it does, you’ll probably want to hit “buy” as soon as possible.

As retailers begin to carry holiday deals throughout October, especially on popular giveaways such as household items, clothing, small appliances, toys and electronics, like televisions, headphones and other consumer electronics, ”says McGrath.

But if you’re waiting for the busiest shopping day of the year, don’t be surprised if you miss out on some in-demand giveaways. She adds, “Buyers should expect the supply behind these door-to-door prices to be low and items to sell out quickly. “

For the best chance of avoiding stock issues or shipping delays, keep an eye out for early sales in the weeks to come. You can pay a bit more than Black Friday, but there’s a better chance you can avoid additional supply chain issues that can arise in late November and early December. Plus, with so many other ways to save money on shopping online, you might be able to get as good a deal as you can down the road.

Overall, McGrath reminds shoppers, “This year, getting a must-have item on time can be considered a bargain. “

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As with all our credit card notice, our analysis is not influenced by any partnership or advertising relationship.

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