You may be the type that feels soothed from retail shopping, or you might suppress your panic while you face the large crowds. Either way, you’re not alone. These are both emotional reactions to the messages that holiday marketers have been refining this year to get you to spend as much as possible. Aside from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there are even more “big sale” days being created, like “Super Saturday” (the Saturday before Christmas).
The objective of these limited time offers is to create a sense of urgency. If we fear we may “miss out” on irresistible deals, we can be triggered to spend ourselves into debt without even being aware of it. There are ways to outmaneuver the manipulative marketing strategies. If you organize yourself ahead of time, you can prevent overspending. There are 4 simple tips listed below to help you develop your strategy.
1. Make a List or Use an App
Know who you’re buying for, and what you plan to buy them. Also record how much you will spend for each individual. Check this against your monthly budget to make sure you have the funds available. Only use credit cards if you can pay them back by the January deadlines to avoid interest fees. If you’re tech savvy, check out The Christmas List App ($1.99, iTunes). With this app, you can track: your Christmas shopping for everyone on your list; your total budget; and the status of each gift (shipping, if received, etc).
2. Restrict Buying Gifts for Yourself
For most of us, there will be temptations to buy things for ourselves while we’re supposed to be focused on finding gifts for others. One gift for yourself may not be a bad thing, but it can stimulate the floodgates to open from there. If you know you have this tendency, budget an amount ahead of time for yourself as well. If you’re prone to feeling guilty after you spend on yourself during holiday shopping, try to avoid it. The guilt can drive you to spend even more, creating a negative cycle of indulgence.
3. Purchase Gift Cards Wisely
Gift cards can sometimes be good solution to purchase for people who are hard to shop for, but they can also be very impersonal. Also, gift recipients don’t always shop at the places or on websites they get gift cards for. Gift cards are ideal when you know they will used by the people you purchase them for. As a professional organizer, I can’t tell you how many thousands of dollars (collectively) in unused gift cards I have found working with my clients over the years. According to Plastic Jungle, as much as 7% of all the cards go unredeemed, and American households contain about $300 worth of gift cards.
4. Be Mindful About Online Marketing
During this crunch time for holiday season shopping, retailers will bombard you with emails, ads on your smart phone, and marketing messages in social network platforms. To shield yourself from the enticements, you can unsubscribe from marketing newsletters. This will help prevent you from eventually getting worn down and caving in. The same applies to catalogs you receive in the mail. Don’t let short term sales convince you to purchase things that aren’t on your list just because it’s discounted.
The challenge here is to prepare yourself for the mass of holiday promotions going on. Keep in mind what you really want to get someone (also consider if they really want it) and let that be your inspiration for holiday shopping. Just in case, make sure to include gift receipts so gifts don’t go unused and get added to their household clutter!