And it doesn’t even require you to leave your house
This should click with you.
Sticking to a holiday budget is tough for parents. Though 72% say they set a budget for holiday spending, more than half (58%) spend more than they’d set out to, according to T. Rowe Price’s 2017 Parents, Kids & Money survey released this month. And they spent a ton: an average of $422 per child on holiday items for the kids.
One secret for parents to actually stick to their budgets this year: shop online. Parents who adhere to their holiday budgets are more likely to say that they mostly or exclusively shop online, while parents who spend more than they budgeted are more likely to shop exclusively in stores. Unfortunately, most parents don’t do this – less than one-third (31%) of parents shop mostly or exclusively online.
Judith Ward, a mom and senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price, says there are many reasons that shopping online can help us stick to our budgets. It’s more intentional, as you have an idea of what you’re looking for, and have possibly researched the items and the prices ahead of time too. There’s also less impulse buying, as there’s aren’t checkout aisles with tons of grab and go items. You also mostly shop online alone — instead of with friends of kids — which can cut down on spending.
Of course, there are plenty of ways to spend too much online (flash sales! Black Friday discounts!), so here’s a quick guide to making sure you’re not overspending and getting solid prices when you shop online.
Make this the year you actually write out that list. The most important thing to do to save money when holiday shopping is to plan what you are going to buy ahead of time, says Stefanie Johnson, CEO and founder of SwapIt www.swapit.com. (We know you know this, but most of us still don’t do it.) Write out the list including a list of gift recipients, what to buy them and how much to spend max — and keep that list in front of you while shopping — and don’t stray; it’ll save you money nearly every time.
Make price comparisons simple. Jon Lal, CEO and founder of BeFrugal, recommends a comparison shopping engine like Google Shopping or a price comparison tool such as PriceGrabber.
Stack your savings. “Stacking your savings is really easy when you shop online,” says Lal. “For instance, you can find a really great deal on a set of pots and pans at Macy’s on Cyber Monday. You can stack a coupon code on top that will get you free shipping or take a percentage off your purchase. On top of those savings, you can click through a cash-back website … before you shop to earn money back.” EBates, Swagbucks, and BeFrugal all offer cash-back services; typically they will deposit your money right into a PayPal account for you.
Make savings automatic. A couple apps to try: Paribus and Honey. The free Paribus site and app scans your email to look for receipts, checks for price drops on those items from retailers and then automatically files a claim with the company to get you the price difference. The Honey app automatically applies coupons to your order without you having to hunt for them.
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