Americans Say Inflation Will Change How They Shop For The Holidays

While there are still a few months to go before the start of the 2022 holiday season, that hasn’t stopped some consumers from thinking about getting a jump-start on holiday shopping. On top of the usual stress related to snagging the perfect presents for loved ones, a recent rise in the cost of everyday items has many would-be shoppers rethinking their holiday spending strategies — and how much they can really afford to spend on gifts.

According to a recent survey conducted by Bankrate, two out of five (40%) survey respondents said inflation will change the way they shop for the holidays this year.

Recent results from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index Summary also showed the food at home index, which reflects how much you’ll pay for grocery items, had increased 13.5% over the past year. A rise in grocery store prices could also mean holiday dinner items are more expensive this year than they were last year. The price of apparel, often a popular choice for holiday gift giving, has also gone up 5.2% year over year.

With that in mind, it makes sense that 84% of holiday shoppers questioned in the Bankrate survey said they would try to save money this year, with 40% saying they’d be buying fewer items, 21% saying they’d be purchasing gifts from cheaper brands and 41% saying they’d be seeking out coupons, sales and other discounts. 17% of holiday shoppers said they’d be making more DIY gifts, while another 11% said they’d be giving used or secondhand items as presents. 17% of respondents said they’d be using credit card rewards to help offset costs, while 27% said they’d be starting their shopping sooner than in previous years.

Below, Select offers some quick tips that could help you save some money if you’re worried about stretching your budget for holiday shopping this year.

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Create a sinking fund for holiday shopping

With the holiday season just a few months away, it’s not too late to start rounding up some extra cash to put toward your purchases. A sinking fund is an amount of money you can set aside for a specific purpose, such as paying for a vacation or, in this case, shopping for holiday gifts.

A sinking fund can help you avoid having to raid your other savings accounts to pay for holiday-related expenses. Make your contribution goals feel attainable by choosing a smaller amount of money to transfer into your sinking fund each week. If, for instance, you put start putting aside $20 each week to purchase holiday gifts right now, by December you will have saved up $240. Depending on how much shopping you need to do, $240 may seem like a drop in the bucket, but a little can still go a long way.

It’s a good idea to transfer any holiday shopping cash into a high-yield savings account, as they tend to pay significantly higher amounts of interest — granted, you won’t earn hundreds of dollars a month in interest, but you’ll still earn more than you would with a traditional savings account.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs offers a high-yield savings account that doesn’t charge any monthly fees, excessive transaction fees or overdraft fees. While there’s no minimum deposit needed to open the account, you will need a balance of at least $1 to start earning interest.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings

Goldman Sachs Bank USA is a Member FDIC.

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

  • Minimum balance

    None to open; $1 to earn interest

  • Monthly fee

  • Maximum transactions

    Up to 6 free withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle *The 6/statement cycle withdrawal limit is waived during the coronavirus outbreak under Regulation D

  • Excessive transactions fee

  • Overdraft fees

  • Offer checking account?

  • Offer ATM card?

Select also ranked SoFi Checking and Savings as the best high-yield savings account with a welcome bonus. Once you set up and start making direct deposits, you’ll be able to earn anywhere from $50 to $300, depending on the amounts of the direct deposits made within a 30-day period. That extra cash could also be used to help cover holiday shopping costs this year.

SoFi Checking and Savings

Information about Sofi Checking and Savings has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer prior to publication.

  • Monthly maintenance fee

  • Minimum deposit to open

  • Minimum balance

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    Members with direct deposit earn 1.80% APY. Members without direct deposit will earn 1.00% APY.

  • Free ATM network

    55,000+ fee-free ATMs within the Allpoint® Network

  • ATM fee reimbursement

  • Overdraft fee

    No-Fee Overdraft Coverage is available; however, SoFi requires $1,000 of monthly direct deposit inflows to unlock it

  • Mobile check deposit

Pros

  • No minimum deposit to open an account
  • 1.80% APY with direct deposit
  • 2-day-early-paycheck automatically when you set up direct deposit
  • Save your change automatically with Roundups and set savings goals with Vaults
  • Get up to 15% cash back at local establishments
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • No reimbursement for out-of-network ATM fees
  • Not a standalone checking or savings account

Try reward stacking to earn as much cash back as possible

Reward stacking is when you combine several shopping rewards programs to maximize the discounts, points and cash back you can receive on a single purchase. For example, if you were to buy a gift online using a credit card that allows you to earn cash back while also using a browser extension such as Rakuten so you can earn cash back there as well.

There are many reward shopping services and credit cards out there that can help you earn as many rewards and as much cash back as possible. Rakuten is a popular option since it’s easy to use — just add it to your browser and click the “activate” button when you’re on an eligible website. There are hundreds of retailers that participate, and from time to time, the cash-back percentage for different retailers may increase or even double, giving you an opportunity to earn even more in cash back for items you were going to purchase anyway.

Rakuten

Information about Rakuten has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the company prior to publication.

  • Cost

  • How to save

    Get cash back on eligible purchases, automatic coupons and price comparisons.

  • How to use it

    Shop on Rakuten.com, the Rakuten app or install the browser extension.

  • How to receive your savings

    Cash back is awarded every 3 months by check or PayPal payment.

When it comes to credit cards, the Citi® Double Cash Card gives you 2% cash back: 1% on all eligible purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill. The card has no annual fee and offers an introductory APR offer, giving you purchasing flexibility.

Alternatively, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express lets you earn cashback in several categories, including 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year; then 1% cash back), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit and 1% cash back for everything else. Note that the cashback can be redeemed as a statement credit.

Citi® Double Cash Card

  • Rewards

    2% cash back: 1% on all eligible purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill

  • Welcome bonus

    For a limited time, earn $200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening.

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    For balance transfers completed within 4 months of account opening, an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies; after that, a balance transfer fee of 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

On the American Express secure site

  • Rewards

    6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more and 1% cash back on other purchases. Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a $350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 6 months.

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Don’t wait until the last minute

Planning your purchases ahead of time can help you figure out a solid estimate as to how much money you’re really going to spend for the holidays. Doing this can also help you to pinpoint how much money you should have in your sinking fund so you can create a specific goal to work toward.

Furthermore, if you wait until the last minute to start shopping, you run the risk of having to pay extra for expedited shipping and getting stuck with buying super pricey items just so you have a gift to give.

Start by jotting down a list of everyone you need to buy a gift for and some potential ideas for each person — and don’t forget to include any holiday decor or other items you might need. That way, you can start keeping track of prices early so you can hit the buy button when you know the product you want is on sale or there’s some other money-saving offer you can take advantage of.

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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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