The following is a paid advertisement written by a member of Mustang Media Group’s advertising staff.

The holidays are here — are you ready? Here are five tips for your holiday shopping strategy:

1. Take Inventory

As Cal Poly students, we’re used to learning by doing, but in the holiday shopping arena we learn by studying. Specifically, study what items you already have. Before you spend money on extra tape, wrapping paper or holiday decorations, check to see what items you don’t need to buy again. And on the flip side, make sure you know what items need replacing. 

2. Make a Budget

Holiday shopping can quickly get out of hand without a proper budget. Set a limit to how much you want to spend this year and be sure to include non-gift expenses. When planning your spending, be honest and open about what you typically spend money on. Don’t forget costs like food, decorations or gas when compiling a holiday budget. Don’t be afraid to factor in a little extra money to cover surprise costs.

3. Keep a List

The holiday game plan works best when you stick to a list. Many stores are hyper designed to make you spend money. The best way to combat this is through a fully planned out list. Sales and discounts could trick you into going over budget for things you didn’t want in the first place. Lists combat this by encouraging you to stick to the plan. 

4. Shop Strategically

Once you make a list, you can create a shopping plan to get everything at the best price. Scout out different stores coupons, sales and rewards programs to find hidden discounts. Make every purchase count by paying with cards that earn points for purchases to maximize your purchasing power, like your SESLOC HomeFREE Checking ™  debit card. Plus, you can stretch your holiday budget by using your debit rewards points. You can redeem your points for merchandise, gift cards or use Pay with Points* to get reimbursed for eligible purchases in real-time.

5. Shop Local 

The best gifts are the ones that are the most meaningful. What better way to show this than by going off the beaten path and shopping at local stores. Supporting small businesses not only helps the community, but also shows that you have spent time finding the best gift for your loved ones. Shopping locally can also mean giving experiences that will be cherished forever. A kayaking trip off the central coast or a zip line adventure could be the perfect gift for the ones you love.

*See Pay With Points terms, conditions, restrictions and eligibility at

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