It's beginning to look a lot like the holiday shopping season. The four- to five-week period between Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of the most frenzied times of year, especially for shoppers.
According to recent research from Needle, an advocate-powered e-commerce company, shoppers report feeling more stress from holiday shopping than they do from family obligations and holiday travel. Eighty-four percent of consumer respondents in Needle's survey stated that gift-giving caused them stress. Finding the right gifts for everyone can be particularly challenging.
While it may not be possible to remove all of the stressors surrounding holiday shopping, these tips may help make the job more manageable.
· Outline everyone on your list. Santa has it right by making a list and checking it twice. Only by writing a list will you be able to ensure you do not forget anyone. Savings expert Lauren Greutman from Flipp, a Canadian savings app, suggests including teachers, coworkers and service people in addition to family and friends on the list.
· Track deals and coupons. Sticking to a budget is easier when you utilize tools that help you save even more. Resources like Honey and Retail Me Not will automatically apply coupon codes at checkout to make sure you are getting the lowest prices possible online. Social media, retailer websites and third-party apps also can be great places to find bargains.
· Protect personal information. The Federal Trade Commission says to protect yourself financially by shopping only on secure websites with an "https" address. Stick with retailers that tell you what they do with your data and how they keep it secure. Consider creating a separate email address and/or account password for shopping retailers to reduce identity theft and other fraud.
· Shop early. Bank of America says one of the easiest ways to overspend is waiting until the last minute to shop and then having to settle for what's available, regardless of prices. Spread out purchases and begin holiday shopping before prices increase.
· Be wary of fake coupons. The internet has made shopping and researching easier but also more complicated at the same time. A deal that seems too good to be true may be just that. Counterfeit coupons are phishing scams that can end up compromising personal information when you click on them.
· Take advantage of warehouse stores. Make the most of that membership fee by buying the bulk of your gifts at a warehouse store to save time and money. These retailers carry everything from jewelry to electronics to clothing. Also, they sell gift baskets or boxes around the holidays that can be divided into multiple gifts, saving you even more.
There are many ways to make holiday shopping easier and more affordable.