14 Ways to Shop Smarter this Christmas SeasonDec 14, 2018
Well, it’s not even November when I'm writing this and the Christmas items are filling the stores already. Come on! We haven’t even celebrated Halloween yet! But, alas, the Holiday displays are out all over the country now. All the latest gadgets and toys are laid out, placed perfectly to their marketing specialists’ specifications and guidelines. This means they are primed and ready to take your cash. Books have been written on the psychology of shopping, from the placement of items to the pricing of those items. Stores pay big bucks to learn how to manipulate shoppers, all for the sole purpose of influencing you to buy more and spend more in their stores. They can make it difficult to keep a tight grip on your cash, but we are here with some advice to help you get through those obstacles with greater ease and proficiency.
Here, we’ve gathered some great shopping tips and tricks that will definitely make this holiday season more enjoyable without you having to break the bank. These tips will definitely take your shopping experience to another level. We hope they assist you with shopping smarter and create a much happier holiday shopping experience.
1. Plan Ahead: Although this may seem obvious, you wouldn’t believe the number of people who know what they should do but fail to do it anyway. Don’t be that person. Statistics show that an hour's worth of planning can save 10 or more hours of work, so plan ahead. Write out your list before you go shopping and include how much you are willing and able to spend on each gift. Better yet, create a budget for your entire Christmas List. Do your best to stick to your list by not adding items or people to it while shopping. When your shopping, your emotions are high, so you tend to make unwise purchases if not thought out beforehand.
2. Know your budget and don’t go over it. This goes with the first but needs to stand on its own. Don’t go over your budget for any reason. Create your budget by listing the people you have to shop for first and then the people you would like to shop for next. Decide on an overall budget. Decide on an amount within that budget to spend for each person and stick to it. This helps you prevent last-minute and unnecessary purchases, as well as keeping you from overspending.
3. Do some shopping online: By shopping online, you save time and transportation costs. You can even save on shipping costs if you are a Prime member of Amazon or take advantage of free shipping promotions on other websites. Instead of visiting crowded shopping malls and fighting for a parking space, why not opt for online shopping instead? Make sure you always get free shipping or at least low-cost shipping. You won’t have to go to the post office to mail items, either. Online shopping, especially on Cyber Monday, can really be a lifesaver during the holiday season. They even mail gift cards if you can’t find just the right gift. Make certain you use only trustworthy websites, however, and shop well in advance so that your packages can arrive in time for the big day.
4. Make sure your personal information is secured: Whether you’re shopping online or in a store, keep your personal information secure. This is another good reason to use cash but if you insist on using your cards, know that Christmas time is a crime time. Cards and numbers get stolen in the most unusual ways. It’s not just people watching over your shoulder, but skimming devices and a million other ways. Be careful. Don’t click on links or enter personal information anywhere. Carry only one card when shopping.
5. Look out for price changes for expensive as well as everyday items: Now is a time to write down the prices because when Black Friday hits, retailers often raise prices to make you think they’ve lowered them. Check out the cost of wish list items now. There are websites you can use to track the history of the cost of items, too. Sites like thetracktor.com or camelcamelcamel.com track prices on Amazon so you can see what price changes are taking place on items you are looking for.
6. Use cash over cards: Unless you are a well-disciplined spender, avoid using your credit cards, even for points. There are all types of studies out there that will tell you that you are more likely to spend more when using plastic. That means debit cards or credit cards, you will spend more using plastic cards than if you spend cash. So, use cash. If you believe you’re in control of your spending, you want to earn travel points, or you just want to ignore my advice, don’t spend more than you will be able to pay off at the end of the month. Going into debt to buy anyone a gift is absolutely unnecessary. Only an extremely selfish person would want a gift knowing it somehow put you behind, if even for a month. Also, don’t allow yourself to be tricked into a store credit card for any amount of savings. That is emotional buying at its worst and don’t you fall for it.
7. Buy the same gift twice or buy in bulk: Let’s say you buy the perfect gift for your sister but then see it in another store later for much less. Buy it, as long as you know you can return the first item with no restocking fee and before Christmas. Also, if you are buying for a long list of employees or a group of people, you may find a great deal you can get in a large quantity. Don’t hesitate, grab the discount. We bought dozens of pairs of shoes one Christmas for some children. Buying in bulk, the store manager gave us a very nice discount and we finished our shopping much faster.
8. Ask for gift receipts after purchase: A gift receipt comes with a clear description of the purchased item, but it doesn’t print the price or the amount you paid for the item. This gives the recipient of your gift a way to return or exchange what you bought them without seeing what you paid for the item.
9. Keep receipts or documentation of every transaction or order: Diligently keep receipts of every store purchase and print out a receipt for every online order you place. The holidays are busy times and we can forget what we purchased, when, where, and how much. Record keeping is much easier when you keep receipts. Make sure you receive a confirmation email when you place an online order, too. I strongly recommend you a copy of the webpage on that email along with the return policy, just in case.
10. Stay away from unrealistic deals: In the marketing world, they are called leaders. Leaders draw you into a store knowing that they’ll only have a limited number of that low-priced item or that you’ll most likely get in there and buy something else, too. Sometimes the leaders will be strategically placed next to an item slighter better with a slightly higher price on purpose. The store knows that you’ll pay $50 more for a name brand rather than the lead-in price for a no-name brand. Either way, unrealistic deals are unrealistic and they are meant to make you spend more money. The offer you see in ads, websites, or spontaneous mailers can seem to be too good to be true because they are. They are usually meant just to get you in or to get you to spend a little money where you would never have spent it in the first place. Do you really need another flat-screen TV, even if it’s only $300? No. But stores know how to get you to spend money and they will pull out all the stops to get you to do so. Watch out for those hard-to-find items, as well: the Tickle-Me-Elmo type toys and the like. If a store says they will have ten of those, the scarcity is meant to stir up people’s emotions. Don’t fall for it. It’s a great opportunity to teach yourself and your children about the scarcity mentality of most Americans and the benefits of delayed gratification.
11. Don’t wait until the last minute: Last-minute shoppers get the leftovers for their friends and family members and they overpay for those leftovers, as well. Don’t give leftover gifts. If you love someone enough to shop for them, spend the time to think out your gift options and buy them in a timely manner. Your shopping should be complete at least a week to 10 days before Christmas. That way, you can focus on wrapping, baking, and delivering Holiday Cheer to those you love.
12. When shopping online, use apps like “Honey” to find the lowest price: What is really neat about shopping online is that there are actually programs out there designed to help you save money. Apps like Honey can be used when you shop on Amazon and will tell you if another online store is selling the same item for less, including shipping. Amazon, while one of my favorite places to shop online, doesn’t always have the lowest price. Find out who does with useful apps.
13. Shop after Christmas: This may sound silly, but my sister takes her kids shopping with all their gift cards from relatives after Christmas. She always calls me up with some fantastic deals she has found: 50% off of this and 70% off of that. It seems to me, simply by waiting, you can get some terrific deals on quite a lot of items when they are marked down significantly. After the holidays, stores just want to clear their inventory and if you’re a patient person, you can prosper.
14. Make all your returns before Christmas: So, you did your homework and you were a savvy shopper. You kept all your receipts and if you found the same item for a lower price, you may have purchased it twice. Or maybe you purchased a gift but found something even better after you did, so you have to return the original gift you purchased. Don’t wait until after Christmas when the lines are out the door to do so. Chances are, you’ll become impatient and put it off until another time not realizing you only have a certain number of days to make your returns. Don’t risk missing that date. Instead, finish your shopping well before Christmas so that the entire week before you have nothing left to do but relax and enjoy the season. Set aside one day, maybe a week before Christmas, to take anything you don’t want back to the stores and avoid those long return lines.
We hope these tips help you be a smarter and savvier shopper this Christmas Season. If you plan ahead and follow our advice, you’ll have less stress and be able to relax and enjoy the holidays more with the people you care about most. Plan your shopping in advance and you’ll be one smart shopper this Christmas Season.
Happy holidays from the Prosperity Process and BNB-Boss!
Michelle R Russell
© The Prosperity Process, LLC
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