This year, the first Facebook posts I saw were around the middle of September from people bragging that they were done with Christmas shopping. The early bird gets the worm – or for sure, gets the good prices.
The amount of panic when you’re shopping is directly connected to the amount you’ll overpay. It stands to reason that less time to shop is less time to shop around and get a deal. And it’s not as though retailers don’t know that!
In construction, the rule is to measure twice and cut once. For the next seven days it should probably be “think twice and shop once,” to make sure your impulse purchases aren’t going to cost you a fortune. Here’s a few things that work all the time:
Timing is everything – don’t hit the malls at night this week. It’ll be insanity and you’ll spend more time lining up than looking. Try to take a couple of hours one morning or afternoon, instead.
Cash is king – when you’re paying, there’s a very different feeling to laying a bunch of $20 bills on the counter instead of using a credit card. With plastic, there’s no reason to stop and no gift too expensive. Take $200, $300, or whatever in cash and when it’s spent – you’re done. And it’ll feel a LOT more real than pulling out one of your credit cards.
Get real – make some kind of simple budget, stay within it. Oh, and get real includes giving your head a shake: Your third cousin’s boyfriend shouldn’t be getting a present – come on people…your idea of who gets presents only works for millionaires.
Speed kills – it’s not just a traffic rule, but also includes your impulse purchases. It will almost always cost you more money if you don’t take the time to shop around.
Make a list and check it twice – it works for Santa, so discipline yourself as well. Don’t leave the house without a list and a good idea of what you’re looking for, as well as a price range. Cruising the stores is frustrating and many people tend to just buy something – anything – just to get on with it, and that’s never a budget smart way to make purchase decisions.
Know what’s important – resolve to make this holiday season less about money. Focus on the difference between the meaningful and the meaningless. This might be time with your family, a donation to your favourite charity, your faith, or many other things. Oh, and maybe not spend most of your Christmas shopping money on yourself…I don’t really need to elaborate on that, do I?