While it might seem like the holiday season is ages away, it always has a tendency to sneak up on us and it is never too early to start planning. Holiday shopping can be stressful – we know that. That’s why we have compiled list of tips and tricks to help you tackle this holiday season’s shopping like a pro.

Tip #1: Start with a plan – This is our greatest piece of advice and the earlier you start planning, the better. Start by determining who you need to get gifts for and set a budget. Then, get a pretty good idea about what you want to get them. Lastly, determine how much you want/can afford to spend.

Tip #2: Do your research on major purchases – Laptops, TVs, gaming systems, etc. Assess your options, read reviews and write down your top 3 picks, just in case your first option is no longer available.

Tip #3: Shop online – Not only does shopping online help you avoid the chaos of retail stores during the holidays, you can often find the exact item you are looking for at the same – or sometimes even lower – price. Amazon is also a great online shopping resource and has virtually everything you could need (sign up for Amazon Prime to receive free, 2-day shipping and other benefits).

  • The internet is a great resource for all your shopping needs, but you also need to remember to practice safe shopping in order to avoid fraud or identity theft. Here are a couple things to keep in mind when shopping online:
    • Be sure you are buying from a real online address (keep an eye out for strange URLS, odd selection of brands offered, broken language, ridiculously low prices, strange contact information, etc.).
    • Only buy from secure shopping sites with secure sockets layer (SSL) installed. To know this, the site should start with https:// and there should be a small lock symbol in the address bar at the top.
    • Only shop online from a trusted, secure Wi-Fi network.
    • Don’t give internet shops more information than they need. There is no reason you should need to enter your date of birth or social security number to buy something online.
    • Keep an eye on your bank account for unusual activity. GSCU’s mobile app makes it easy to check your accounts and transaction history 24/7.

Tip #4: Just because something is on sale, it doesn’t mean you need to get it. If I wasn’t on your list, you probably don’t need it. Keep an eye out for deals, but don’t get caught up in the “savings.”

Holiday shopping can be overwhelming. Start planning as soon as possible – you’ll thank yourself later.