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Holiday Planning in 2020: Different, but Doable

The holidays can be a stressful time for a lot of reasons. Add a pandemic to the mix and it’s sure to be a season unlike any other we’ve experienced. My hope is that through this blog, I can be a part of eliminating stress as much as possible. And that’s why I think it’s a great time to start thinking through holiday shopping now — it will be here before we know it.

Create early lists.

If you’re like me, when your kids get a case of the “I wants” they are usually instructed to create a list. Half of the year I find myself saying, “Put it on your birthday list,” and the other “put it on your Christmas list.” Of course, they don’t get everything on their list, but it does give me ideas for special occasions. This year, we’ve started creating lists in the fall earlier than normal as I’m certain holiday shopping will be a bit unconventional. Which brings me to my next point..

Check inventory changes.

Some stores may be changing up their stock volumes and offering different in-store options as trends move toward online shopping. This isn’t a new trend and certainly isn’t the case at every retailer, but holiday shopping may look different in a pandemic with the possibility of increased safety regulations in stores. If there’s a must-have item on your list, you may consider making your purchase in advance vs. run the risk of a sell-out. Luckily, sales have been plentiful even ahead of Black Friday, so this may be the one year I recommend you go ahead and purchase in the fall months. 

Manage income changes.

One of the tougher reasons this holiday season may look different is if you’ve experienced a COVID-related income change. This is especially challenging because the holidays are a particularly emotional time of year for so many. If you’re used to big holiday exchanges, my advice is to dwindle your shopping list down and focus on what’s most important to you. Maybe it’s ensuring your kids get one great holiday gift, or that you get your parents something really meaningful. Beyond that, don’t be embarrassed to tell people you won’t be able to participate at the same level this year. Communicate that early so you’re less tempted to cave and start spending money that’s not in your budget as the actual holiday approaches. One good thing is, holiday gatherings may not be prevalent, so adjustments will be easier to manage.

For different reasons, the holiday season is sure to look different in 2020. But manage your expectations now and plan ahead and it will be just as magical.

Kat’s Money Corner is posted in the Kansas City Star every week. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, follow us on Twitter @CommunityAmerCU.

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