Money at 30: My Top Holiday Shopping Tips For 2020

Even though we’re still in mid-November, I think we can all agree on fast-forwarding to the holiday season this year. Of course, 2020’s festivities are bound to look a bit different in many ways. Nevertheless, shopping will surely still play a big role in the next several weeks.

With that in mind, I figured I’d highlight some of my top holiday shopping tips — including some tailored to our current predicament. Here are a few money, time, and stress-saving suggestions for completing your 2020 shopping list.

Save Money, Time and Stress With These 5 Holiday Shopping Tips

Shop local when possible

First things first, given everything that’s happened this year, it would be tremendous if you could support your local small businesses this holiday season. Thankfully, this may be getting easier to do as many businesses have upped their e-commerce game during the pandemic. As a result, you may even be able to shop from small businesses that aren’t in your area. For example, with my wife and I living in Missouri and her brother living in Oregon, we figured we’d purchase coffee from a small shop in Akron, Ohio we visited together and just have them ship the order directly to him.

Of course, whether you’re shopping in-person or online, Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to find deals and discover new shops. This year’s event will fall on November 28th — also known as the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Understandably, it may not be possible to shop small for everything on your list this season but, when you can, consider doing so.

Use a cash back portal or app

With online shopping already growing into the main method of holiday shopping for many consumers in recent years, you can bet 2020 will take that to the next level. While this strategy does have its downfalls, there are plenty of upsides as well — not the least of which is convenience. However, perhaps my favorite aspect of online shopping is that you may be able to find coupon codes or earn cash back by using certain apps and tools.

In my opinion, when it comes to online shopping, you really can’t top Rakuten. At the same time, there are a few different options I still think are worth exploring. Among them is the app Bumped — which I’ve written about for years but only recently launched widely, revamping their platform in the process. While Bumped’s offers may not be quite as high as Rakuten’s in some cases, the fact that you can earn shares of stock instead of regular cash back means that your rewards could be worth more with time. Meanwhile, apps like Dosh, Capital One Shopping (formerly Wikibuy), and Honey may also be worth a look as different services tend to have varying deals.

Start now!

Another change in the age of COVID is that many retailers are doing away with the traditional Black Friday mob scene. Instead, many intend to offer longer, more digital-focused promotions. In fact, some have already started, putting items on sale well ahead of the normal kick-off. That’s why you may want to start at least looking to check items off of your list now. Moreover, with shipments likely to reach an all-time high this year, putting in your orders early will also help give you peace of mind that they’ll arrive on-time.

Consider opening a new credit card

Before we get into why this might actually be a smart financial move, a word of warning: credit cards can be dangerous. As has been said a million times, carrying a balance on a credit card for the long term can mean paying hundreds if not thousands of dollars extra for purchases you make. Therefore, if you don’t trust yourself with a credit card and fear being able to pay off your full balance on time, stay away.

With that said, opening a new rewards credit card ahead of the holiday season can be lucrative for a few different reasons. First, since most credit card welcome bonuses are contingent on you spending a certain amount of money on the card within your first few months, it may make sense to have these initial weeks line up with the holiday shopping season. Second, you may be able to find a card that rewards the type of shopping you plan to do during this time of year. For example, you can find cards offering as much as 5% back on Amazon purchases (at least for a limited time), 3% back at department stores, and more. On top of that, there’s a bit of a credit card bonus bonanza happening at the moment as issuers look to rebound from some down months. As a result, I’d recommend looking at some rewards credit card options and seeing what might make sense to add to your wallet ahead of the new year.

Confirm that your loved ones still want to exchange gifts

Finally, stepping outside of the actual shopping aspect of the holidays, given everything’s that’s going on right now, you may want to confirm that those with whom you normally trade presents are in a place to do so. As we all know, receiving a gift without having given one can be an awkward experience, leading people to spend money even when they don’t want to or shouldn’t. Because of this, having an honest conversation about what makes sense for this particular season may save you some very unneeded stress.

The 2020 holiday season is sure to be anything but normal. In turn, there will certainly be some adjustments needed for your typical shopping plans. On the bright side, this also presents an opportunity to save money, reduce stress, and hopefully even support small business owners in the process.

Also published on Medium.


Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site and has recently starting publsihing his own personal finance blog at

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This holiday season will be a lot different from the past but this can be a good opportunity to explore other ways to remember and make our loved ones feel special this season.

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