Holiday shopping is insanity even in the best of times, and 2021 is actually the worst of times for consumers. You may have already noticed that items that pop up in your newsfeed are ‘sold out’ before you can even click the link. Or if not sold out, then the size or color you need is ‘no longer available’. I have noticed it with groceries as well. There is a particular bar that my kids would eat every day for breakfast, and I couldn’t find them anywhere in store or online for several weeks. When I did find them, I bought every box they had! It’s like the toilet paper shortage of 2020, but with *everything*. 

This article in The New York Times is aptly titled ‘Those Gifts You Want For The Holidays? Don’t Wait Too Long’ and offers an in depth explanation of how shipping delays are now affecting the supply chain:
“Strong consumer demand coincided with factory shutdowns, worldwide protocols requiring social distancing and a shortage of workers everywhere. Even when production has increased, transit has been overwhelmed, including the docks where ships arrive and trucks that drive the last miles. 
The U.S. ports are suffering the most, particularly those in Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA, which receive goods produced in Asia. Congestion has reached record levels, with scores of boats anchored or drifting, waiting to unload. Unlike their Chinese counterparts, many U.S. ports do not operate on a 24-hour schedule, although President Biden announced last week that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach would operate around the clock.”
Another article in The Washington Post titled ‘The Supply Chain Meltdown Will Make Holiday Shopping Messy This Year. Here’s What You Need To Know’ echoed The New York Times:
“Two months out from the peak holiday shopping season, consumers are encountering empty store shelves, rising prices and shipping delays that seem to stretch into oblivion. Container ships are clogging ports, awaiting cargo or unable to get past the gridlock to unload their goods. Some factories have gone dark, lacking raw materials and hands to run machines.”
Consider yourself warned–supply chain issues are making it more difficult to purchase everything from gifts to groceries for holiday entertaining. Shipping times are also taking longer. So make your list, check it twice, and buy it NOW if possible. 
You might be thinking, “Great! But what do you do when you can’t afford to buy it NOW?”
Don’t panic! There are options for you. 
One option is to create a holiday shopping budget to maximize your spending and possibly create opportunities to buy sooner than you had planned. Dave Ramsey is a well known financial guru and he offers a free guide titled ‘How To Set Up Your Christmas Budget’ on his website. 
Another option is to shop at stores that offer layaway plans. A layaway plan requires the customer to place a deposit on items they are purchasing and allows them to make payments until the item(s) are paid in full. A helpful website called More With Less Today has compiled a master list of stores titled ‘Complete Guide To Layaway Stores–List Of Stores With A Layaway Program In 2021’
A final option is in lieu of giving gifts, one can give experiences instead. This is a win-win situation, because it is a way to support local businesses that have been far more affected by the pandemic, and also alleviates the pressure to buy an item that may be expensive and hard to find. Tickets or memberships to the zoo, science center, theater, etc. are great options for kids and families. 
Ready or not, the holidays are upon us and in this volatile market planning ahead is the best way to save time and money and avoid frustration. 
Good luck! May the odds be ever in your favor! 
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Amanda is a "mom on the move" as the mommy of two littles and spouse of an engineer whose projects have taken the family all over the continental US. Amanda's roots are in Columbia, Missouri where she was born and raised, but at age 21 she spread her wings and moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, where she earned her Bachelors in Public Relations and Journalism from Hawaii Pacific University. Life has been ridiculously amazing for Amanda, but she's had to fight for it. In the past 10 years she has survived Crohn's disease, losing both her parents, pregnancy loss and infertility, losing her dream home to a fire, nearly losing her spouse to a sudden cardiac arrest and simultaneously she lost her colon and became an ostomate. The silver lining is Amanda has not only survived--she has thrived--continuing to manifest a life she loves and is proud of. She is transparent, raw and real with others, prizing authenticity over perfection. As a Mom Amanda is an accidental attachment parent who bought a crib and stroller but discovered she loves babywearing and bedsharing. She is not shy about breastfeeding in public. She's a stay-at-home-mom by choice and she loves kids, especially hers.