Black Friday, Cyber Monday – Survival tips for the shopping season

Today Black Friday, marks the beginning of the ‘crazy’ shopping season. A lot of people are now resting their tired and aching muscles after this morning’s ‘door busting’ moves, and retailers are smiling to the bank while releasing more incentives to ‘get out the money’ again on Cyber Monday.’  This trend will of course continue, albeit with different names and tags till the end of the year. Bottom line is retailers will be happy, some of us will victoriously acquire some ‘most wanted’ possessions, but quite a number of us will end up broke, frustrated and stuck with items we really don’t need by the time this is all over. So how can you ensure that you will be among the smiling and victorious people on December 31st?

How about the following hot tips….

  1. Set a Limit – Don’t get into the shopping mode without a budget, decide how much you would like to spend, create a low range (the least amount) and a high range (absolute highest amount you want to spend) before beginning your shopping.
  2. Create a list – Don’t just write a list of people you want to buy gifts for, also write what you would like to buy for them. Don’t be rigid about this, include alternatives so that you don’t get frustrated when you don’t find the number 1 items on your list easily. Getting online or in stores without a list of what you want to buy is like giving a blank check to a rogue, only this time you are the one stealing from yourself. However, make sure you put yourself as number 1 on your gifts list – treat yourself too.
  3. Don’t Starve Yourself – People who deprive themselves of the  ‘fine things’ of life, which they can ordinarily afford run the risk of going overboard during the shopping season. The sudden feeling of freedom and liberty to buy may result in over spending, so be careful of this. This is like the reaction of  a fasting/dieting person who is suddenly about to break his/her fast, a lot of discipline is required to avoid overeating and ruining the whole purpose of the fast/diet anyway.
  4. Spend Cash – Wait a minute, I don’t mean that you shouldn’t use a card to make payments. What I mean is that you should spend the money you truly have either in the form of physical cash, debit cards, bank checks or credit cards that you can conveniently pay off within 30 days. This is not the time to open store credit cards or charge amounts that you know will be difficult to pay back (without interest) when due.
  5. Adopt ‘Creative Gifting” – It is rather unfortunate that we live in a world where everything is judged with a lens of materialism. A mother working two jobs, who can barely afford to put food on the table for her children now feels the need to buy the same kids the latest expensive gadget or toys as holiday gifts. We have sadly lost the plot. However, you don’t have to be a victim of this trend. If you can afford to buy something, then by all means by it. However do not feel compelled to purchase what you cannot afford, there are sweeter ways to show your love and care.  What is wrong with knitting a baby blanket for your little niece or nephew if you have the talents? Or simply taking the kids to a nice and warm indoor park to run around and have a good time if that’s what you can afford? These are examples of relatively inexpensive gifts that people in your life will appreciate for much longer than the material items you bought even though you couldn’t afford them.
  6. Make Room – It is a great idea to clean out your closet before going shopping for new items. Apart from freeing up the space, you can also make money doing this. Giving your lightly used items to registered charities can help your tax burden. Even if you don’t want to give out the Louis Vuitton purses and Christian Loboutin shoes, what stops you from having your own ‘Green Sunday’ sale of these items so you can use the proceeds to fund your new list of ‘wants’? Guess what? They may look ‘so last season’ to you but your neighbors may just think they are fresh off the runway!
  7. Buy the ‘Most Wanted’ First – Start your shopping with items you really think you ‘must have’ so that your allowance takes care of those no matter what, then spend the change on the others. An easy way to blow your budget is starting with the least important items and hoping to get to the more important ones later. It is a recipe for disaster.

I hope these tips help you survive the waves of this shopping season. Now go on and snatch all those good things from the shelves but don’t forget that ‘Reality Wednesday’ is coming right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I wish you all the best as usual!

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