Stress-Free Holiday Shopping Tips

Happy holidays, ‘ya filthy animals!

Jeeze… we soared through 2019, and now we’re smack in the middle of holly-jolly December. It’s officially time for Christmas music 24/7, peppermint lattes at our favourite coffee shops and scouring stores for the perfect gift.

But, the holiday season isn’t always as happy as we’d like. We focus so much of our attention on gift-giving that we forget that bills are due when January rolls around. Life continues and groceries need to be bought, bills have to get paid, and it can feel daunting after a month of heavy spending.

This month, I’m partnering with Capital One Canada to highlight a few of my best tips for surviving and thriving during the holiday season. This will include tips for how to build and follow a set budget, track spending, take advantage of credit card perks and rewards, and practice healthy credit card habits during this busy time of year.

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Tip #1: Low budget, no problem!

For a lot of us that get together with large families, holiday spending can be stressful insofar as there’s so many people to shop for. Before you set off on a holiday purchasing spree, it’s important to plan ahead. Make a shopping list and build a budget that is realistic. Base your list on what you need for the holidays versus what you want. While you’re ticking items off your shopping list, don’t forget to track your spending!

Take advantage of budgeting and mobile banking apps to help you monitor your spending in real-time. This will help you identify areas where you may be overspending based on your holiday budget.

Sometimes budgets can be tight this time of year and you need to get creative… so why not try a Secret Santa? For example, instead of stressing over purchasing a handful of gifts for your cousins, organize a Secret Santa. You can set a fixed budget with your group so everyone stays on track.

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Tip #2: Make your own personal ‘naughty’ & ‘nice’ list!

Let’s be real – you may have 20 friends, but not all of them need a gift. Personally, if my shopping list includes more than four or five people outside immediate family, it’s time to reduce my spending. That being said, it doesn’t mean that I can’t shop for additional friends –  it just means I need to find a more creative (and less costly!) gift.

Personally, I always love opting for homemade treats as a personal and budget-friendly present. You can pick any style of treat (cookies, cake, brownies, etc.) and buy the ingredients in bulk. If you have extra budget, you can even pick up some simple decorative items from the dollar store to gift with your goodies.

But remember – whether you’re shopping for low-cost goodies at the grocery store, or a more expensive item at your favourite retailer, be sure to opt-in to two-way fraud alerts on your credit card if that’s an option available to you. Two-way fraud alerts can help you identify unauthorized transactions in real-time which is especially important during the holiday spending season. Fraud alerts enable banks to notify customers through alerts that prompt for a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ response to verify the transaction. With a Capital One card, you also get Mastercard Zero Liability protection against unauthorized use of your card.

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Tip #3: Points, points, baby!

Assuming you’ve taken the time to evaluate your finances and build a feasible shopping list, ensure you don’t lose out on your points! Using your credit card to make holiday purchases may open up the opportunity for you to take advantage of the rewards and perks some credit card companies offer. For example, Capital One’s Aspire Travel Platinum Mastercard gives you one reward mile for every $1 spent on all purchases. The Capital One Guaranteed Mastercard can help you build credit while giving you access to benefits like 24/7 customer service, purchase assurance and extended warranty coverage.

For the month of December, I’ve decided to break up my credit card payments, so that I’m paying half of the bill on the 15th, and the other half on the 31st. Since I already know I’m going to be spending a bit more this month than usual, breaking up payments will make them far less daunting.

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What are some holiday spending tips that you live by? Let me know in the comments!

 

-MR

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