holiday shopping Archives - Common Trust FCU

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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