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5 Tips to Conquer Holiday Shopping this Year (On a Budget)

By Nicole Bustamante

Can you hear the sleigh bells jingling? No? It might be a little early for carols and candy canes, but it’s never too soon to plan out your holiday shopping list! 


Like much else in our world, this holiday season is going to look quite different from previous years—and we want it to help make it as easy and affordable as possible. 


As tempting as a little procrastination may be, shopping the day before is not the answer to your gift-giving anxiety. We know just how overwhelming holiday shopping can be, so we’ve outlined some tips and tricks to manage the manic shopping season and take the holidays in stride.



1. Start early with lists, lists, lists


Get ahead of the game and start your shopping prep now. If you’re reading this article, then you’re well on your way! Plan out who you need to get gifts for, ask for wishlists in advance, and then highlight different categories within your shopping list.


For example, you can group expensive gifts together for special loved ones so you know which items will cost the most. You can also group together similar gifts for different people that you can potentially buy in bulk. Or, if you decide to go the homemade route, you can plan who you will be crafting a gift for and create a timeline to make sure that your DIY gift-making is on track to be completed by the holidays. 


Organizing these details will help you begin to shape your budget. Additionally, with a heavy reliance on online shopping this year, some brands have begun offering Black Friday sales as early as October to ensure your items arrive on time. Plan ahead of time to take advantage of all these deals!



2. Set your budget in advance (and keep yourself honest!)


After you have an initial idea of what gifts you are purchasing for each person, you can put together a general budgeting spreadsheet with spending allowances. Simply create a chart in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets with four columns:


  • The type of gift / recipient
  • Your allotted budget for the item(s)
  • Your actual amount spent
  • The difference between your allotted and actual spend


If you’re handy with a spreadsheet, you can use shortcuts to automatically calculate total prices or differences for items within each column. However you map it out, setting your budget in advance is a sure way to alleviate any stress and keep tabs on your holiday spending this season.



3. Do your research on in-store vs. online shopping options


Now that you have a realistic sense of your budget and what types of gifts you want to purchase, it’s time to find out how your favorite retailers are handling this year’s holiday rush. 


If you can plan far enough in advance, ordering your items online may be the best bet. Many retailers’ websites include information on when popular items will be restocked and estimated delivery dates to aid in your planning. If you prefer to visit a physical store but want to avoid store capacity limits and long lines, check if the retailer is offering curbside pickup. Just remember: whether you choose to shop online or in-store, you can always pay in installments with Quadpay!


Staying on top of these details will ensure that you avoid paying expensive overnight shipping fees for last-minute purchases. It’s also important to research return policies, as some smaller stores or resale sites might have specific restrictions or limited windows for returns.



4. Scout out bulk discounts and holiday deals


Having a plan for what gifts you want to buy will guarantee that you’re ready to pull the trigger if any great deals come along (like those early Black Friday sales!). You can also set a reminder in your calendar for known retail holidays, such as Small Business Saturday (Nov. 28), Cyber Monday (Nov. 30), and Free Shipping Day (Dec. 14).


If you have specific clothing items or accessories in mind for someone on your list—or you’re treating yourself to a little something for the holidays—keep an eye on inventory on resale sites like Poshmark and The RealReal. With these retailers, you can check availability for the specific items you’re on the hunt for at a discounted price. 



5. Manage your expenses with Quadpay


Whether you’re buying supplies to make a gift from the heart or investing in a larger purchase for a loved one, consider splitting your seasonal expenses up over several weeks with buy now, pay later. Unlike racking up a mound of credit card charges that will quickly accrue interest, using a service like Quadpay to manage your expenses is interest-free and doesn’t require a hard credit check.


At the end of the day, Quadpay is a smart spending tool that can help you stick to your holiday budget without cutting any corners. Take it from us: there’s no jollier feeling than knowing that your savings are still intact after the holiday season is over!

Get started with Quadpay today

Quadpay’s editorial content is not written by a financial advisor. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

About the author
Nicole Bustamante

Nicole Bustamante is a writer and journalist passionate about storytelling and the art of fashion. She has written for The Zoe Report, Angeleno Magazine, Modern Luxury Interiors California, and more in addition to writing for her personal blog.