(BPT) – Are you ready for the holidays? Searching for the perfect gifts for friends and family can be fun and exciting, but it can also be stressful. Especially when money is tight, it’s a challenge to shop for just the right gifts for your loved ones and BFFs. But with a bit of planning, holiday shopping can be just as fun as ever — without clearing out your bank account or piling on credit card debt.
Smart holiday shopping starts with a clear strategy — so get out your tablet or notebook and get started ASAP.
1. Create a budget
Knowing your realistic gift-giving budget can save you headaches down the road. Consider your monthly income and your usual expenses when figuring out how much you can realistically spend on your friends and fam this year.
2. Make a list and check it twice
Your budget got you worried? Consider who you really need and want to shop for — and what they really want.
Maybe your mom would prefer an hour’s worth of Facetime with you so you can chat while you do a craft or your nails together, instead of another knickknack or tchotchke for her dresser. Perhaps your dad would really love a coupon book for doing some yardwork for him, instead of a tie. Think about homemade or handcrafted items your loved ones might really enjoy instead of something you need to buy.
3. Use a smart budgeting app
Want to take advantage of a Cyber Monday deal, but worried about blowing your budget? You can buy now and pay later — with no interest — using a smart budgeting app. The Quadpay app divvies up the total of your purchase into four equal amounts, one you pay now and the other three installments spread out over the next six weeks, with no interest and no hidden fees — Quadpay even sends helpful reminders of upcoming payments via text message. You can use it to purchase items anywhere, whether it’s online or in-store — with thousands of major retailers to choose from.
The payments will be automatically charged to the account you provide. And if you’re shopping in-store, touch and go with the app for safer, contactless shopping.
The best news? There’s no hard credit check or impact on your credit score. It’s a stress-free way to handle bigger-ticket items you want for your special someone — but need to spread out payments over time to manage your finances smartly.
4. Keep an eye on the sales
Yes, you can use the Quadpay app to catch the best deals on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. But if you don’t snag the items at the top of your list by then, holiday sales are still likely to show up over the next few weeks. Retailers are pulling out all the stops to entice consumers this year, so keep your eye on prices for items you want both during and after the big name sales days.
Research online for a sense of what regular prices are for these items, so you’ll know a bargain when you see one. Keep a running list, and search online and in-store options where the same or similar products might be available for less.
And don’t panic if a website claims there’s only two left — chances are that’s just a sales tactic to get you to buy now.
5. Shop early
While you may not have seen the perfect deal on that one special item, don’t wait until the last minute to finish your shopping. Most retailers offer free shipping with any purchase, or purchases over a certain amount. If you wait too late, you can run into trouble — you don’t want to have to pay extra for expedited shipping just because the gifts you ordered can’t arrive on time. Avoid shipping fees by giving your loved ones gifts cards if you find the calendar slipping away from you!
Take the time now to plan your strategy. With these tips, you can shop smartly for a much less stressful, much merrier holiday season.