Holiday madness comes in many forms. Close proximity to family members that we haven’t seen for months can be one precipitating factor. Too much eggnog, mistletoe and Santa sightings can do it as well. And shopping. Ah – shopping. At this time of year, shopping can be almost lethal – it certainly can become a contact sport! There are shopping centres that I actively avoid from about December 15 onward – they are madhouses!
So, this week I’d like to share with you 7 smart tips for avoiding holiday shopping madness. Feel free to share these with your nearest and dearest, so they, too, can stay sane as they shop this holiday season.
1. Use a list. Do not, repeat, NOT, go shopping without a map – a list of what you need, and what you will use and wear should your purchase said item. Shopping without a list at this time of year is like launching yourself into the Bolivian jungle without a map or a guide. Don’t do it to yourself. There is research that tells us that you will spend up to 40% less if you shop with a list. The thing you need to not leave home without is NOT your MasterCard – its your list.
2. Prepare your budget. Okay, don’t turn me off just yet. I know this isn’t the funnest suggestion I’ll make today. But you know I wouldn’t suggest something that, even if a little distasteful, will pay a huge benefit. So, yes, this is the fish oil of this list. I get it. But the smart tip still stands: you must know how much you have to spend, and how you will pay for your purchases. Research says that you will spend 20 – 50% less if you pay with cash. And in this case, debit cards count as ‘plastic’.
3. Work out where. Don’t just wander aimlessly, from store to store, mall to mall. Create a rundown of the stores you’ll hit, and keep focused on what you’re there for. Otherwise, the great vortex of holiday shopping madness might swallow you whole, with hours disappearing like fairy dust, leaving you wondering where Thursday went.
4. Ask yourself the Do I Really Need It? Question. This question will likely save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Advertisers know that the longer you spend thinking about a purchase, the less likely it is that you’ll buy it. Which is why so much attention is spent on compelling us to make impulse buys. Don’t fall for it. Insert that little gap between Now and Spend, and ask yourself: Do I really need it?
5. Insulate yourself from sales hype. If you manage to actually get the attention of a sales person in a store this holiday crush, remember that it is their job to get you to buy something today. They may be on commission or be receiving other incentives for sales performance. Don’t be a statistic on their pay sheet. If you don’t need it or won’t wear or use it (Remember to stop and ask yourself those questions), don’t buy it. Today or any other day.
6. Avoid shopping fatigue. There is such a thing as shopping til you drop, where you end up exhausted and overcome by all the buying behaviour. Don’t let that happen to you! The more fatigued you are, the poorer your buying decisions will be. Limit your shopping trip to 2 hours, or if you must shop for longer (not advised, girl scouts), then make sure you take frequent rest stops. It’s not just tired drivers who pay.
7. Track your spending. Yes, another fish oil suggestion! (okay, so there’s two on this list – you’re going to be super nourished, aren’t you!?). This is one of the most outstandingly effective strategies you can employ. And it costs nothing to do. If you want to reign in your spending this holiday crush, then do this. Carry a small notepad with you and jot down everything you buy. Every. Thing.
So there you have it, sports fans – my seven tips for avoiding holiday mayhem in the stores.
I hope it helps you stay sane, and stay on track, during holiday shopping madness season.