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Experts offer advice on how to stretch your budget this holiday season amid ‘skyrocketing’ inflation

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If you noticed stores jumping into holiday wear earlier than ever, at the end of September this year, give yourself credit for noticing a historic trend, driven by economic trends.

Stores began Christmas and holiday promotions and displays after being bloated with inventory – while staggering inflation set us all back.

“Everyone, including us, is more broke, so maybe we’ll have a little less this Christmas,” Jennifer Shapaka said, as she pondered her shopping list.

According to the National Retail Federation, 43% of people polled in a nationwide survey said that because of inflation, they weren’t earning enough to buy all the gifts on their list this year. So to keep up with prices and demand, 32% plan to take on more credit card debt as interest rates rise.

A total of 22% even plan to sell assets just to pay for freebies this year.

“You definitely feel the pinch,” said Steve Harper, who brought his two sons to Seattle from San Francisco, thinking the vacation deals might be a little better here.

Harper said he’s made a firm list and is committed to getting the best deal for the computers and gaming systems his sons Cade and Emerson demand, and he won’t smother those brothers with more than “stuff”.

“I’m going to be a little more specific about what I’m getting and making sure it matters,” he said.

Harper brings us to pro tip number one. Budget experts recommend using a gift tracker app to help you track priorities, prices, and total spend.

“I could always buy a bigger item, but not just what I want, when I want,” he said.

Harper is also part of a major new trend this year: start holiday shopping before Halloween.

According to Leah Logan, retail expert at Inmar Intelligence, 40% of consumers plan to shop earlier than last year, which brings us to the next pro tip: This year, you’ll likely find your best deals long before Black Friday. Backlogs of pandemic supply chain restrictions kicked in in August, filling inventory — often beyond a store’s capacity.

“The first buyer is the smart buyer,” she said. “It’s because the retailers are running the promotions now and the product is available now.”

“Black Friday isn’t really Black Friday anymore,” she said. “It’s a bit like Black Fridays and Cyber ​​​​Weeks!

Target and Walmart started Black Friday sales more than a month ago on Oct. 10, about three weeks earlier than ever before.

Amazon launched a second Prime Day the same week.

“Ninety percent of consumers would base their purchasing decisions on the availability of discounts and promotions,” Logan said.

And that’s our next pro tip: Ensuring you’re getting the best price can be as simple as scanning a barcode with your phone.

Price comparison apps like ShopSavvy can be a real weapon in the fight against inflation. They track price changes over time and where to find the best price.

The Camelizer app performs a similar type of price comparison and trend analysis when shopping on Amazon.

Pro tip number 4: financial advisors recommend make a budget, give your list spending limits – which many people find very difficult.

“Budget? That word is not in my vocabulary,” said Tanya Butler, a client visiting Seattle from Arizona.

Experts say inflation is causing many of us to rethink gifts to give less.

“There seems to be more of a focus on creating appropriate family experiences, maybe mini-trips,” Logan said.

Oil prices have fueled an explosion in the cost of travel. Since November 2021, air fares have increased by 43%.

“Unfortunately, the consumer is squeezed at every end,” said Yannis Moati of Hotels by Day, a company that offers daytime deals — with amenities — at top-rated hotels at a fraction of the nightly rate.

Moati offered some pro tips. You may have heard that buying airline tickets “incognito” on your browser is a good idea.

Yannis says using a VPN to hide where you shop can get you cheaper plane tickets. “Some flight search sites offer drastically different prices depending on your location.” he said.

“If you were to have an Apple computer and you’re based in California, and you’re used to buying something at a high price, you might be offered a slightly higher price than someone else in somewhere else in the country,” Moati said.

Moati added to avoid booking on a Friday or Saturday. The best day to book a plane ticket, according to Moati and the Airlines Reporting Corporation, is a Sunday. The reasons behind this advice are complicated, but some travel experts suggest you could save 5-15% by shopping online on a Sunday, early in the week.

Moati also gave us a hack that could save you 30% on a hotel stay, and it’s hard for planners: he says try to book a hotel at the last minute.

“Book last minute with a hotel and by last minute I mean 48 hours from where you would like to stay,” he said, admitting you have to be flexible and patient.

Whether you’re doing your holiday shopping sooner or later, the National Retail Federation says most people won’t cut back on the amount they spend, despite inflated prices.

“I think they’re spending the same amount — I think they’re just getting less,” Logan said.