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Doesn’t it seem as if everything is doing its darnedest to bust your holiday shopping budget this year?
There’s inflation, which already seems to be tipping the scales towards pricier gifts this season. There’s the continuing pandemic blowback, which seems to have resulted in a scarcity of options for certain gifts — making some of those that are available more expensive. Finally, most of us are out of practice. After the pandemic turned holiday shopping on its head, we are rusty using the best tricks of the trade to stay within budget this holiday.
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Perhaps these 10 tips from retail experts will help remove the rust and set you back on the path to shopping within your 2021 holiday budget.
1. Don’t wait until the last minute
Although it may sound slightly contradictory, getting an early start on holiday shopping will ultimately save you money, says David Sykes, head of Klarna US. Even though it might seem like an early start would result in spending more, it actually is the best way to avoid last-minute overspending and impulse buying, he says. Some 27 percent of Gen Xers and 19 percent of boomers began their holiday shopping before Halloween, which helps to spread out the cost of gift-giving over the course of the season, according to Klarna’s 2021 "Holidays Unwrapped" report. With supply chain issues making some products scarce this year, waiting too long to start shopping can lead to going over budget.
2. Create an email address just for retailers
The last thing you want to do is share your personal email address with every retailer. You’ll wind up with an avalanche of spam that will bury your inbox. But you can create a second email address that’s specifically for this purpose: to share with retailers for updates on discounts and deals, says Kristen Gall, president of Rakuten Rewards. “A lot of deals are sent by emails exclusively from the stores,” Gall says.
3. Price match with gusto
Many retailers — including Target, Walmart and Best Buy — will often match the competition’s prices when you present them with clear proof of a competitor’s lowball pricing, Gall says. If you have a loyalty to one store — but find a lower price at another — simply bring the proof of pricing, such as a printed ad, into the store you prefer and there’s a reasonably good chance that it will match it, she says. But keep in mind, there’s typically a strict window of time during which stores are willing to match competitor pricing, so make sure you’re familiar with the time limits.