Good luck finding great deals. With inflation and supply problems, you’ll need to work harder to save anything. Here’s how to do that and still keep your holiday cheer.
3 minute read
Nothing feels better than finding that perfect holiday gift for a loved one – and doing it at a discount. That’s so 2019, however. For 2021, supply chain issues mean you might not find what you’re looking for, and inflation means you might not like what you’re being forced to pay.
“Consumers should expect to pay closer to full price on a range of products this holiday season,” The Wall Street Journal has reported, “including on Nike sneakers, Coach handbags and Ralph Lauren Polo shirts.”
Meanwhile, CNN has reported, “Many stores won’t be able to get the merchandise that should have already arrived for the start of the holiday shopping spree. And when stores do sell out of items they have, they risk staying out-of-stock on those items for much longer than usual.”
These news reports make it seem like Scrooge and the Grinch are both coming to your holiday dinner. The best way to avoid the holiday blues? Shop early. That’s what the smartest respondents to Debt.com’s Holiday Spending Survey did. Nearly 4 in 10 started before now, and 15 percent started this summer.
While that’s nice for them, what about you? If you didn’t get an early start, you can still buy what you need at the price you want – if you follow this advice…
There are two other strategies that I didn’t have time to delve into in that short video. These are some advanced tactics, but if you have the free time and the brain space, you’ll save even more. Both are about credit cards, which makes sense when you consider what NerdWallet’s 2021 Holiday Shopping Report reveals: “Three-quarters of 2021 holiday shoppers (75%) will use credit cards to pay for gifts, charging $620, on average.”
1. Open a new credit card right now
This seems like terrible advice on multiple levels. First, I’ve spent a three-decade career – and wrote not one but two books – warning Americans against having too many credit cards and charging too much on them.
It’s not that credit cards are evil, it’s just that they require time and attention to use correctly. One example of that: If you don’t have a rewards card or travel card, you can still get one right now. While inflation and the supply chain have devastated many sectors, credit card issuers are still offering great deals – because they’ve read the research and know that Americans will be whipping out the plastic this holiday season.
So even if your credit score was too low to get the best rewards cards in the past, you might want to try again. I’ll just repeat myself: Be careful. Don’t charge more than you can afford, because the most lucrative rewards will get wiped out in one month if you have to pay steep interest rates.
2. Open a new card later
Once again, I’m advising that a new credit card might be a good idea – this time right after the holidays. Not just any credit card, but a balance transfer card. These cards let you move your high-interest balances from other cards and put them all on one card. That card has a lower interest rate – sometimes as low as zero.
What’s the catch? Those lower interest rates are temporary. Some last only six months, others a year or even 18 months. But they do end, and if you haven’t paid off the balance by then, you can get socked with a higher interest rate than you had before.
Obviously, the credit card companies offer these cards because many customers fail to pay off their balances, which means hefty profits for those companies. Surprisingly, however, Debt.com conducted a poll before the pandemic and found, “Two-thirds pay off the consolidated balance before the teaser rate ends.”
With NerdWallet estimating that every U.S. adult will rack up, on average, $620 on their credit cards just during this holiday season, it might be worth rolling over all your balances to one of these cards – if you have the money and focus to pay off those balances before the introductory offer expires.
Published by Debt.com, LLC