holiday shopping Archives - Common Trust FCU

Holiday Shopping Tips

The most wonderful time of the year is around the corner, and we are ready to get you prepared. The holidays bring about festive feelings of generosity and community with family and friends, but sometimes, getting in the holiday mood can create stress with gift-giving and efficient shopping. The 2021 holiday season is anticipated to be the most unpredictable holiday shopping season in years. Given post-pandemic supply shortages and that people are still recalibrating their financial well being from the pandemic, consumers are generally exploring a different take on what consumption means. Common Trust Federal Credit Union shares in your holiday excitement with ideas, insights, and tips to reset your mindset and enter the season equipped to reduce holiday brain fog. We hope we can help you proactively celebrate the season and become a holiday shopping expert.

Deck the Digital Halls

Every year, eCommerce continues to grow as consumers find that online retailers have done a lot of the heavy lifting with gift ideas and catering to budgets. Even more so, eCommerce has surged as online sources have improved for a seamless digital experience with fewer clicks and better shopping platforms. With email marketing blasts and promotions, consumers can access abundantly varietal merchandise with tremendous ease and feel good about the specials offered. One study suggests that 64% of shoppers will be more emotionally invested in their purchases than before because of the stakes set by the pandemic. 

Budget & Review Your Recipient List

Common Trust recommends first setting your holiday budget from the outset, so there are no surprises as you forge ahead on your shopping journey. Even if you plan to use credit cards, which 40% of Americans do for their holiday gifting, tackling your recipient lists with a pre-determined budget means you won’t go overboard with spending. 

Considering who you want to give to this season will help set that budget per person to protect your wallet. Create your gift receiver list and check it twice. 

Charitable & DIY Gifting for Budgeting

There are thousands of unique ideas online for artisan foods, treats, or crafty gifts that feel personal while budget-friendly. Consider online food provisions or handmade goods that feel more meaningful. Additionally, charities have made it possible to donate online in someone’s honor to a cause they value. Not only is this more personal, but any donation amount is greatly appreciated so you do not have to spend too much to make an impact. Magazine or online news subscriptions for those with particular hobbies and interests are a cost-effective and personal idea, as well as gift cards to specific retailers you know your loved one enjoys. There are now even online retailers that send unique home plants to nurture to endure past the holidays.

Price Shopping & Avoiding the Rush 

‘Tis the season for deals. With the abundance of online retailers, price comparison shopping can be an entirely daunting task itself, but online shopping still makes it easier to chase the best deal. Once your gift is in mind, allow time to price shop across at least three other retailers to ensure you are grabbing the best deal to stay within your budget. Shopping online vs. in-person also means you can subscribe to receive news and offers in advance to avoid the stress of last-minute shopping. It has been reported that up to 50% of shoppers have started their holiday shopping even before Black Friday.

Play the Online Shopping Cart Game

Shopping cart abandonment is typical of online shopping behavior and occurs when website visitors place multiple items in their cart but do not complete the purchasing process. eCommerce retailers track this behavior and “watch” what you are viewing and do not purchase to email you a coupon to receive an additional discount on goods you may have planned to buy. This is a great way to get an extra discount as they want to move goods on their site.

Protect Your Identity & Your Porch

You’ve read the countless holiday horror stories of identity theft and then physical theft once your packages arrive. Holiday shopping scams are unfortunately prevalent now, as fraudsters know the holiday rush. So as you scour the internet for your gifts, beware of odd-looking websites that lack the verification methods to secure your identity, and double-check their credentials via reviews. Thieves are scouting neighborhoods looking for packages on porches, too, so once you have made your purchase, ensure you receive the shipment tracking information to follow its way to your porch to be sure you collect your goods. 

A Fun & Safe Holiday!

There are good times to be had this season! Your holiday joy and safety are Common Trust’s highest wishes for all of our members. We are here to assist you with your holiday budgeting and any other needs during this time to take advantage of year-end promotions.  

Reach out to a Common Trust team member anytime and let us know how we can help at the start of this season’s celebration.

8 Last Minute Holiday Shopping Tips

Are you running late with your holiday shopping? Don’t worry, it’s not too late to find the perfect gifts for your friends and family! Continue reading for 8 last minute shopping tips to help you find great presents for everyone on your list.

Check online or call ahead

When you are shopping last minute, time is of the essence. To avoid wasting time, always check online or call ahead to make sure the item you are looking for is in stock. Many stores show whether the item you are looking for is in stock, and some allow customers to order online and pick-up in stores. This is a great way to get your shopping done quickly online without having to pay for shipping and wait for the gift to arrive.

Write a list

After you research online, write down a list for exactly what you are looking for and what stores you want to visit. Writing a list beforehand prevents you from wandering around the mall without a plan and from forgetting what you need. On your list, make notes if you know the item is in stock or write down your backup options.

Set a time limit for each store

If you’re on a time crunch, once you’re inside the store, give yourself a time limit to get your shopping done. A time limit prevents you from getting distracted or from becoming preoccupied shopping for yourself. It also encourages you to ask a store associate for help instead of spending extra time looking on your own.

Be comfortable

While you’re facing the crowds of last-second shoppers, you want to be comfortable. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, and always eat a sufficient meal before you start shopping. Don’t forget to pack yourself a snack to avoid feeling run-down after a few hours. With the right clothing and a full stomach, you’ll feel energized and less stressed.

Sign up for Amazon Prime

If you don’t want to do your shopping at the mall, online shopping on Amazon is a great way to find great gifts right from the comfort of your home. Amazon Prime offers free 2-day shipping on almost any item you could imagine. If you aren’t already a member, try Prime with a subscription of just $12.99 per month and cancel it at any time. You’ll save on shipping costs and receive all the presents you need in just 2 days.

Give an experience as a gift

Are you stuck trying to think of the perfect gift? Consider giving the gift of an experience. Experiences include everything from sports tickets, cooking classes, a spa gift card or food tour passes. Buying an experience is not only quick and easy, but it will also be a memorable gift for your loved one. Check out this Boston events calendar for concerts, festivals, exhibits and more occurring in the Boston area to help you find inspiration for an experience to give.

Utilize your local grocery store or drugstore

Today, grocery stores and drugstores have tons of great gifts available that are perfect for your last minute shopping. They have pre-packaged gift sets, stocking stuffers and candy available for shoppers. Not to mention, drugstores offer tons of options for gift cards. Though some might consider gift cards a little bit impersonal, don’t be afraid to give a gift card if you’re in a time crunch because they will always be put to good use.

Give the gift of food

If you’re running late, giving the gift of food is a great idea. Bake or purchase your favorite holiday goodies and wrap them in a festive tin for your co-workers, teachers, or neighbors. Holiday treats are also a great gift to have prepared in case you receive a gift from someone you weren’t expecting.

Lastly, don’t forget CTFCU’s holiday promotions are here to help you tackle your last minute holiday shopping. Our holiday loan and holiday club promotions will help you handle the stress of finding the right gifts without breaking the bank. Visit our office or contact us to learn more!

How To Create a Budget for the Holiday Season

The holiday season is in full swing and the shopping sprint is on. While this time of year is supposed to be full of joy, everyone knows how stressful it can be paying for presents and holiday fun without breaking the bank. Continue reading to learn more about how you can maintain peace of mind during the holiday season by creating a holiday budget.

Make a budget of your necessary expenses

Before you can begin planning for your holiday expenses, if you do not already have one, create a budget of your fixed expenses for the month. Use a monthly budget tool, to calculate the total cost of your fixed expenses- such as your mortgage or car payment. With the help of a budgeting tool, you will then know how much you have left over to spend on presents and other holiday expenses.

Determine what you need & who you are shopping for

Next, develop a list of all of the holiday-related expenses you will be spending money on. This includes presents, gift wrap, food for holiday parties, gas for traveling, charitable donations, decorations and postage for sending gifts or holiday cards.

Determine everyone you are going to be shopping for including kids, family members, neighbors, friends, and coworkers. Set a maximum price point for each person, and add up the total estimated cost. Estimate the cost of all the other holiday-related expense and add it to the total cost for presents. If that exceeds the amount you have to spend on the holidays, you may need to revise your list and find the areas where you can cut back.

Shop smart

Shopping smart for holiday presents is necessary in order to stay on track with your budget. Research online before you buy and always compare prices between different stores. There are tons of websites and apps that offer great in-store and online coupons for any present you could imagine.

Take advantage of today’s technology with websites like RetailMeNot which offers in-store and online coupons. Another great smart shopping tool is the browser extension Honey, which scans websites for coupon codes and automatically applies the best one to your online order.

Use a low-interest credit card

As much as you have budgeted, you might need help paying for everything during the holiday season. If that’s the case, consider enlisting the help of a low-interest credit card. Using a low-interest credit card is a great way to capitalize on the power of borrowing without risking being unable to pay off your balance. CTFCU offers members low-interest MasterCard credit cards for an APR rate as low as 9.90% and no fees.

Keep track of your spending

Throughout the season, make sure to track everything you spend money on because you may need to adjust your budget throughout the weeks. If you find the perfect gift for someone but it costs more than what you planned for, you’ll want to adjust your budget accordingly in other areas. A detailed log also will also help you plan for your holiday spending next year and it helps you to learn the areas where you can cut back.

Overall, creating and sticking to a budget is not only a great way to save money, but it also helps you maintain peace of mind during the holiday season. If you know you are on track and not spending too much, you will be able to enjoy the holidays. Not to mention, sticking to your budget will set you up for financial success in the new year.

If you’re looking for more ways to make the most of finances during December, check out our online financial education center and our current holiday promotion page.

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