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Prepare Early for the 2021 Holiday Shopping Season

Early shopping is the name of the game for the 2021 holiday season. Despite the ongoing pandemic, according to a recent article by CNBC, market experts report that consumers are optimistic about holiday shopping and anticipate higher spending than last year.

However, two key factors putting pressure on consumers make this year different from last year. First, experts encourage shoppers to make their list now and plan to buy items sooner rather than wait due to product shortages, worker shortages, and shipping delays related to the ongoing pandemic. In fact, if you wait to buy, you could be out of luck until after the holiday season.

Also, with shortages affecting consumers worldwide, you may not see as many deals as you get closer to the holidays and may even pay higher prices due to limited supply.

Some retailers may proactively push holiday sales sooner to get ahead of delays and overburdening delivery services and workers fulfilling online orders.

So, how do you navigate these uncertain waters as a consumer? Before you panic, there’s an easy way to tackle this year’s holiday season in a few short steps without putting stress on your plans or your wallet.

Step 1 – Develop Your Budget Now

Before you start making a list of your favorite friends, family, or co-workers to receive gifts, know precisely how much you have to spend. Don’t guess – instead, create a budget to determine how much you can set aside to buy gifts. Ensure the amount is specifically for your holiday shopping and doesn’t cover other expenses like gas, groceries, or paying yourself. Those items should be their own separate lines of expense within your budget.

Step 2 – Start Your Shopping List

Now knowing your budget, you can begin creating a shopping list that falls within your financial means. When gift-giving on a budget, a little bit of thought can go a long way. Instead of adding pressure on yourself to purchase items outside of your budget, start thinking about items that would be meaningful yet inexpensive. For example, Christmas ornaments are a great gift because they can be unique to the person, such as a cat ornament for someone who loves cats or a super-hero ornament for someone who loves comics. Gifted ornaments also hold a special memory every time they’re hung on the tree. Whatever item you choose, giving something useful and meaningful will always be appreciated.

Step 3 – Start Buying As You Go

Since experts predict shortages and delays, it’s wise to start buying gifts as money becomes available in your budget. For instance, if you are setting aside $100 every two weeks from your paycheck, you can begin buying gifts from the first $100 available and continue buying gifts every two weeks as you go. With deals predicted to be fewer and far between, it’s likely you won’t miss out on too many deals by waiting.

Also, you’re more likely to stay within budget when you buy as you go because you’re not waiting until the last minute when affordable choices become scarce. 

Step 4 – Have a Plan B

Black Friday is a long-standing tradition for the biggest sales of the year. Before the internet made it possible to get deals from your comfy couch, people were wrapping around buildings (and still do), standing in line for hours and sometimes days to make their way through the store in hopes of snagging big sales on the most popular items. With impending shortages this year, you may encounter instances where the gift you wanted is simply no longer available, even on Black Friday. Have a gift backup plan ready to avoid the stress of finding another gift on short notice in what is predicted to be an uncertain shopping experience.

By following a few simple steps in planning now, you could sidestep the anticipated holiday hustle entirely and without the dreaded financial aftermath.

Consider a holiday savings account with your local credit union if you’re looking for ways to save early next year. It’s an easy, automated way to deposit funds into an interest-bearing savings account throughout the year. Then, ahead of the holidays, your funds will be automatically transferred to your designated account, so you’re financially prepared for the holidays.