The holidays are coming up faster than you think, and that means it is the perfect time for people across the U.S. to get their finances in order. Of course, that is easier said than done. First, individuals must address their financial literacy and fix any major problems. From there, it is possible to move on and begin budgeting for Christmas shopping — or simply making smart purchases online.
The Outlook: Just How Bad Are The Average Person’s Finances?
Unfortunately, the answer is not good. According to U.S. News, “two-thirds of Americans would struggle to scrounge up $1,000 in an emergency,” and “only 24% of millennials demonstrate basic financial literacy.” This, of course, is in and of itself a problem. These stats are definitely something to think about before you buy things wholesale online.
Of course, for many of us, forgoing holiday shopping altogether is not possible. In fact, for many of us, giving up making day-to-day online purchases is not possible, either. The good news is that you do not have to. With some careful steps, you can do a great deal to improve your finances. Start with the following:
- Whenever possible, pay bills on-time. Whether it is your utility bill, a medical bill, or your credit card, failing to pay on time has the potential to hurt your credit score. What’s more, you may be charged late fees and interest, driving you further into debt.
- Use the resources available to you. Create a budget! Can you afford to buy things wholesale online? Take the guesswork out of the equation. Use free or inexpensive tools, like Mint.com or the Mint app, to track your finances and create a budget.
- Pay more than the minimum. If you can swing it, you absolutely should pay more than the minimum payment on any bill with the potential to accrue interest. That includes credit cards, student loans, and car loans. Why? Paying the minimum keeps you above water, but only just. Interest will continue to build up over time, adding more to your statement. The more you have to pay, the more challenging it is.
- Use any extra income to pay off your debts. Did you work overtime last week? Get a bonus? Maybe you received hundreds — or even thousands — more than you were expecting back from your tax refund. Use this additional income to pay off debts. Use your tax refund to pay off a credit card instead of going out to eat, planning a vacation, or splurging on a big purchase. It may not feel very glamorous, but you will thank yourself in the long-run.
A final word about initially tackling your finances: do not give up. Do not put it off until tomorrow. It may be tempting to start Christmas shopping without taking any of these steps. Going through them first will pay off dividends in the months and years to come.
Once you address the weaknesses in your budget and do what you can to ameliorate them, it is time to buy things wholesale online. Save money on day-to-day purchases or on your holiday shopping by shopping smarter on the web. Here are some pointers.
Say you are looking for a very particular thing. It is wise to understand the average price range for that item and to use that knowledge to purchase your item at a reasonable cost. For example, if you suffer from celiac disease, you know that many gluten free options, like almond flour or gluten free pizza, may be marked up. Get a baseline for the average price for gluten free pizza to make a truly informed purchase. Without that baseline, you may easily end up spending too much.
You can also use this baseline as a springboard. Instead of simply making sure you are paying the average price or somewhere near it, use the average price to find sales, buy things wholesale online, or search for other promotions, like getting free shipping or free samples with your purchase.
Use The Internet To Get What You Really Want
When shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, your options are limited. What is in front of you is generally “it.” You may be able to ask a store employee to search in the back for a specific item you have in mind, but often even doing that comes with no guarantees. The internet affords you options. Not only is it possible to buy things wholesale online (i.e., at a much more reasonable and budget-friendly price!), but it is also possible to purchase very specific things and even to customize items to your liking.
For example, if you have a company event or wedding coming up, you may want to purchase custom T shirts for your team at work or for the attendees of bachelor or bachelorette parties. This would require a trip to a very specific brick-and-mortar store, and their turnaround time may not be as fast as you would like. By going online, you can choose from a number of different companies offering this customization. Plus, you can narrow down your search by taking turnaround time, shipping time, and delivery costs into account.
Of course, customization or tailoring your purchases to your specific needs or preferences takes many different forms. Instead of purchasing team t shirts for your next event, maybe you want to find a gift for someone that is truly unique and that will express how much you value your relationship with them. Items like custom jewelry are your perfect bet. Again, this is much easier to do on the web — particularly if you want options. While it is technically possible to do this in-person, you may be able to choose stones, jewelry colors, or bands at a brick-and-mortar store. Online, it is possible to personalize jewelry with inscriptions, find jewelry with convenient compartments for hidden messages, purchase jewelry with dried flower petals encased inside, buy timely and relevant jewelry encouraging others to vote, and even to find jewelry made out of unique materials, like wood, spoons, bullets, or small chambers or beads that act as tiny oil diffusers. In other words, online, your options are just about endless.
Cut Corners And Cut Costs
Why do people buy things wholesale online? Why do Americans do the majority of their Christmas shopping on the Internet? A simple answer is that it saves time and money.
Holiday shopping in-person involves driving to the store, parking, and navigating crowds of people to find what you want. Getting to and from the store costs money. Plus, it costs you valuable time — time that you could spend working or getting things done around the house, or even spending quality time with your family. That is for the most basic purchases.
For specialized purchases, there is more involved. If you want a vinyl banner to help you celebrate a loved one’s birthday or advertise a garage sale, for example, getting one would involve driving to the store, picking out the material, viewing a mockup online or in-person days later, and going through the process of adjusting or approving that mockup. On the internet, you can do it all without leaving home. It is much simpler for employees to make a few quick changes on their computer and shoot you another email than it is for them to go back and forth with you in-person. Streamline the process. Save money and time by choosing to buy things wholesale online.
Think Outside Of The Box
Don’t limit yourself unnecessarily. To find the best deals on the web, do not stop with a simple Google search. Sometimes, you have to dig deeper and think outside of the box.
Visiting a pawn shop online opens up even greater possibilities. Pawn shops have quality, one-of-a-kind jewelry, coins, and collectibles for a fraction of the normal price. Plus, they incur more potential benefits. If you have anything you would like to sell to buoy your wallet, talk to pawn shop employees about the value of your items. Many pawn shops allow you to purchase expensive items with cash or cash apps, and some even offer loans without background checks and credit checks.
Online pawn shops offer an entirely unique experience — one that goes beyond searching for items using a simple Google search or Amazon.
Use Promotional Codes
An overwhelming 90% of U.S. consumers do their holiday shopping online. Do not be among the small percentage who always pays full price. Not only is it possible to buy things wholesale online — look out for deals if you are purchasing items in bulk or items to resell — it is also possible to take advantage of contests, sales, and promotional codes.
A full 93% of shoppers take advantage of timely promo codes. Sign up for newsletters from your favorite online retailers. Many of them offer promotional codes from time to time. Failing that, consumers may find promotional codes using word-of-mouth, downloading browser extensions and tools like Honey, or using crowdsourced websites, like Offers.com. Consumers know to comb through sites like Groupon as well for promotional offers and time-sensitive sales.
What’s more, don’t forget that these coupon codes are good for services and classes as well — not just physical items. For example, you may use a promotional code to get a discount on online cannabis courses, online yoga classes, cooking classes, beer brewing classes, spa services, and more.
Put In Your Research
On the internet, you have an incredible wealth of information at your fingertips. Don’t forget it! Sure, it is possible to buy things wholesale online, but it is also possible — and smart — to use the internet as a research tool. Armed with the right knowledge, you can make the highest quality purchases at the most affordable rates. It is even possible to discover purchases that will ultimately help you cut back on day-to-day expenses.
For instance, say you are trying to reduce your electricity bill. The internet can tell you what to buy to do just that. One option is to replace traditional light bulbs with LED light bulbs. “Switching to LED light bulbs can help the typical home save about $1,000 over a 10-year period. That’s roughly $8.33 a month,” USA Today reports. If you are looking for a long-term investment, weigh the pros and cons of solar panels. Installing solar panels lowers your carbon footprint, saves you money, makes you eligible for certain tax breaks, and possibly even eliminates your electricity bill. That’s not all. According to Energy Sage, “20-year electricity savings from solar can be significant, ranging from the low end of $10,000 to almost $30,000.”
Other items to research in-depth before purchasing are fence materials. With a bit of digging, you can find out what materials are the least expensive and what materials will last over time. For example, aluminum fences are inexpensive, withstand wear and tear, and can be incredibly versatile (aluminum can be used to mimic the appearance of other popular materials for less).
Adapt In-Person Savings Strategies
The best online shopping tips are derived from the best in-person shopping tips. Savvy shoppers know to buy things wholesale online because buying them wholesale in-person extended considerable savings first. Take another page out of the in-person savings book: search for used parts and salvaged vehicles.
If you are in the market for a car, a brand new vehicle runs an average of $36,718, according to Edmunds and CNBC. By comparison, the most expensive used vehicles cost just $20,000, and consumers can purchase salvage vehicles for 30 to 50% of the listed Kelley Blue Book (KBB) price. To break that down, if a Jeep Wrangler is valued at $30,000 by KBB, you are likely to find repairable salvage Jeeps for sale for just $9,000 to $15,000. Salvage Jeeps in subpar condition will run for even less. If a car cannot be repaired, consider investing in used mobile shears, and used mobile shear parts to breakdown the vehicle into usable scraps.
The average U.S. shopper will spend a minimum of $700 on Christmas or holiday gifts this year. Get that number down by following the above tips and tricks. Compare prices, buy items wholesale online, and look out for time-sensitive coupon codes.