Three Tips for Smart Shopping This Holiday Season

I don’t know about you, but those years that I’ve been crazy enough to get up before dawn on Black Friday and wait in line for the doorbuster deals have also been the years that I’ve returned home with the greatest haul … for myself!

Throughout most of the year, I’m able to stave off the temptation to overspend on myself by avoiding casual strolls through Target or Ann Taylor. But this time of year, the siren song of big box stores and malls is at its peak. At some point, I’m going to have to hit the stores and face my temptress. On her territory.

So how to avoid being your own Santa during the time of year that the deals are the best and stores are pulling out all the stops to get you to buy, buy, buy? Try these tips and see if they don’t help you resist the pull of “To: Me, Love: Me” gifts.

Take a list: Much like going to the grocery store, it is much easier to stay within your budget if you make a list before hitting the mall and then stick to it. Map out your shopping trip ahead of time so that you don’t find yourself accidentally wandering into the handbag department at Macy’s when you should be shopping for your father. Shopping with a purpose saves time and money.

Take a friend: Join forces with another budget-minded friend and make a pact to keep each other from indulging. When you see your gal pal heading for the register with the centerpiece bowl you saw her admiring, kindly divert her path and remind her that she should simply add it to her wish list, then move to the next gift on your list.

Take your pick I’ve never been a fan of going cold turkey on anything, except for when my parents quit smoking five summers ago. But going cold turkey on shopping for fun is just like trying to give up chocolate for extended periods of time. It might work in the short term, but one day you’ll probably just snap and do more damage than if you’d allowed yourself a Fun Size Snickers bar each afternoon.

Same goes for shopping. Before you head out to the stores, pick one thing you really want and need, then make that part of your shopping mission. Is your scarf collection lacking the latest chunky cowl-neck beauty? Time to find one! Knowing you are allowed one treat will make it easier to resist those little, “Oh, that’s so cute! And the price!” voices that threaten to ruin your budget resolve.

Above all, remember the point behind all of this shopping madness – to show our love for family and friends by selecting that perfect something to remind them of our fondness when we can’t be there in person to show them. Embrace the joy of granting someone else’s wish and you’ll find the desire to find the next cool thing for you is a dimmed by how fulfilling it is to simply give.

 

Kelley C. Long is a Chicago-based financial coach who believes you shouldn’t have to have a million bucks to receive personalized financial advice. Check her out at www.kelleyclong.com.

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