Holiday Shopping Best Practices - USAA Member Community


Holiday shopping is hard. Anyone who says it is not hard has either not done it in a long, long time or is only shopping for themselves. Even though holiday shopping is hard, it can be easier. Follow these simple tips to have the best holiday experience that you can!


1. Start Early & Start Fueled Up. When we dread something, it hangs on us throughout the day. Start shopping the first thing in the day and after a good breakfast. Being ready, energized, and rested is a great way to take on a daunting task. Most of us also have our best attitudes in the morning. Drop the kids at school, grab a coffee from home, and start shopping.


2. Swap Baby Sitting with a Friend. Taking children of any size shopping with you can be stressful and lead you to make fast shopping decisions which sometimes are not the best. Find a friend to babysit for a few hours and then return the favor. It’s a great way to share and help each other out.


3. Set a Shopping Budget on a Prepaid Card. Setting and keeping a budget is one of the hardest things to do with holiday shopping. This year get a prepaid card, load it with your budget, and that’s it. Once the card is spent down to zero, then that’s all the gifts. Using credit cards can be too tempting to make an exception or spend over your limit.


4.  Agree on a Reasonable Amount with Gift Exchanges. Gift exchanges with a set limit around $10-$20 dollars are a great way to share the holiday season and ensure that the total spending and keeping to your budget remain on track. The purpose of a gift is to recognize someone who is special to you or has helped you out during the year. A gift, not the price, is what makes receiving a gift special.


5.  Limit the Number of Gifts per Person. This is so very easy to say and so very hard to do. Having a set number per person really makes you stop and think about what to get for each person. Once you have reached the number of gifts then stop. Stop. This is very hard to do with young children, but it helps teach them appreciation for what they do get. If a young child gets lots of toys, then consider donating old toys to children who do not have as much. 


6.  Look at Way Out of Season Gifts. If you have a child who loves being a princess, then buy her a discounted (probably 90% off) Halloween costume that she can open her presents in. Or, have someone who loves golf?  Look for discounted golf items in colder months for use in the start of the next season. You can find some exceptional discounts at the end of season. Again, these should be items that you need and want that also fit your budget.


7.  Use Your Reward Points. Consider how you use your Reward or Loyalty point cards. If you have airline cards that have maybe 10,000 to 20,000 points that place you well away from a trip or an upgrade look at other ways to use those points to pay for a gift. You can often buy small gifts, a magazine or send flowers that can serve as a holiday gift.


Shopping for the Holidays can be stressful. But planning early, being rested, leaving the kids at home, and using strict budget rules can make a stressful time much less demanding and maybe even pleasant. Have a great holiday season!


What is your top tip for successful Holiday Shopping?


About the blogger:
Chad Storlie is the author of two books: Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and Battlefield to Business Success. Both books teach how to translate and apply military skills to business. An adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University and Bellevue University in Omaha, NE. Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces officer with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units. He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States. He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab. In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics. He has been published in The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, and over 40 other publications. He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.



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