Thrifty Holiday Shopping Tips for Maryland Families

November 30, 2023

The holiday season is well underway, and 75% of shoppers are on the hunt for the perfect deal. Many shoppers plan to save money with discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but there are tons more creative strategies to give the perfect gift without breaking the bank. In this blog post, we’re unwrapping a few strategies to manage your holiday budget so you spend mindfully – rather than extravagantly. 

Make space in your holiday budget for small businesses

Small businesses are vital to Maryland’s economy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 99.5% of businesses in the state are small businesses, and they employ 49.3% of the workforce. Communities with a wide variety of small businesses are more economically resilient and foster a lively, warm atmosphere.

Kickstart a yearly tradition of shopping small in your local community. Shopping local doesn’t just benefit the health of your neighborhood, it can also make for an overall more positive shopping experience. Small businesses offer the personalized service that many shoppers find is lacking in the online shopping experience.

How to craft your holiday budget

Don’t feel bad if the holidays snuck up on you this year. Even without advanced planning, you can build a realistic budget that checks off everyone on your list without breaking the bank.

Here’s how to keep your spending in check.

  • Plan as early as possible: By outlining your holiday budget before the shopping season officially starts, you can spread out the financial impact, avoid last-minute stress and impulse purchases, and possibly even score better deals. (If this advice didn’t reach you in time, there’s always next year!)
  • Assess your finances–before you start shopping: Understanding your financial situation is crucial to staying on budget during the holidays. Review your finances, and determine how much you can allocate to holiday spending without impacting your regular expenses.
  • Make a detailed list of holiday expenses (and check it twice): Craft a comprehensive list of your expected holiday expenses. Include everyone you plan to buy gifts for as well as other holiday-related expenses like decorations, travel, and the best part, food. This can help you set a sensible budget for gift-giving, so you don’t overspend.
  • Set a realistic holiday budget: Assign specific spending limits to each person, and be practical about what you can afford to spend – taking into consideration all of your expenses.
  • Monitor your spending: Keep track of your spending throughout the season to ensure that you stay within your budget – and make adjustments if necessary. SECU’s Online Budgeting Tool makes it easy to track your holiday spending. To create your holiday budget, log in to your online account. For a step-by-step guide to setting up a budget, visit our walkthrough

How to unlock even better holiday deals

Finding the best holiday deals requires patience, research, and careful timing, but a savvy approach can help shoppers get more value out of their holiday budget.

Here are our holiday shopping tips to maximize savings:

  • Sign up for email and text alerts: Retailers often notify subscribers about exclusive deals and promotions. You might even get early access to sales, so enable notifications if you’re hyperfocused on scoring a specific deal.
  • Follow retailers on social media: Retailers also use social media to share exclusive deals. Better yet, they might run special holiday contests on their profiles, so be sure to stay connected to their various social accounts.
  • Join loyalty programs: Loyalty programs also provide exclusive discounts and early access to sales. Plus, they accumulate points, which often can be redeemed for additional savings.

Retailers aren’t the only ones offering additional deals and rewards during the holiday season. Many cashback and credit card rewards programs run special promotions during the holidays, which can significantly enhance your savings.

Here’s how to make sure you’re making the most of your rewards programs:

  • Review your rewards programs: Every credit card has its terms and conditions, so familiarize yourself with your credit card rewards programs. Be sure you understand how cashback and rewards are earned and redeemed.
  • Maximize spending category bonuses: Some credit cards offer higher rewards on specific spending categories. If your credit card offers bonus rewards for holiday-related purchases like shopping, dining, or travel, take advantage of them!

Make holiday shopping even merrier with a credit card that truly works for you. SECU offers VISA credit cards for virtually every budget and experience level. Say goodbye to hidden fees and high interest rates! Our credit cards are designed to make your holiday spending smarter and more cost-effective. Explore SECU credit cards, and discover a new level of financial peace of mind.

Prioritize thoughtful, budget-friendly gifting

The holidays are an opportunity for families to establish new traditions that foster a sense of togetherness – and if they help keep spending in check, that’s a bonus. By prioritizing thoughtfulness and creativity over extravagant expenses, you can have a memorable, budget-friendly holiday.

Consider trying budget-friendly gifting options:

  • Pool your resources: Coordinate with family or friends to pool your funds for a joint gift. Together, you can select a gift that has meaning for the whole group while also distributing the cost of a more significant purchase.
  • Participate in gift exchanges: Gift exchanges are a great way to set spending limits and ensure everyone can take part in the holiday cheer without breaking the bank. Suggest a gift exchange in your social network and set spending limits that ensure it’s accessible to everyone.
  • DIY your gifts: Whether you’re a talented baker, a gifted artist, or an amateur candlemaker, your unique talents and skills can make for affordable and thoughtful gifts. Even if crafts aren’t your style, DIY gift sets with the recipients’ favorite snacks or most-used items (like the lip balm they always have on hand) can be a low-cost way to show you care.
  • Don’t count secondhand shops out: Explore thrift stores and online secondhand shops for unique finds. You can find good deals on high-quality items, and you might even unearth the perfect gift.

Establishing new traditions like gift exchanges or DIY presents allows families to focus on thoughtful gifts rather than extravagant ones. By adopting these money-saving strategies, you can spread the holiday cheer without overspending. The key to a memorable gift-giving experience is to prioritize thoughtfulness and creativity over the price tag.

Set up your holiday budget now

Log in to your online account to build out your budget for a stress-free holiday season. Ensure you spend your money wisely, and your holidays will be filled with joy and generosity without breaking the bank.

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