How to Save Money on Shopping
1. Shop early, before Thanksgiving if you can manage it. There are lots of reasons for this. First of all, the selection is best and you can find plenty of sales. For example, this year I found great Hallmark Christmas cards at $5 a box, which is the lowest I have ever seen. Also there are fewer crowds, which means the shopping experience will be less fatiguing and you will make smarter decisions. Nothing beat the feeling this year when I found a whole cache of beautiful Christmas candle sets and knocked out 14 people in one fell swoop! Not having the pressure of deadlines will also help curb impulse purchases. It also gives you time to put some thoughtfulness into your gifting. I have worked plenty of Christmas Eves and always felt sorry for the poor people who would buy anything, at any price, just to get off the hook for Christmas.
2. After Thanksgiving, just don’t go to the mall (or Target, etc.). If you get your shopping done in advance, you can spend all that time you would have spent looking for parking spaces and standing in line at the cash register doing really fun stuff — like ice skating, baking, or going to tree lightings or Christmas concerts. And you may be very glad you planned ahead this year. One very good reason is to stay well. Ever notice how the poor salespeople get sick in December? I hate being sick around Christmas, so I avoid elevators and any crowded places when I can manage it. But I also like to shop, just to look around. So, my advice is when you get a shopping bug, go on a Tuesday night, or other low-volume night, and buy yourself one small present, such as a piece of costume jewelry from Claire’s or a nice scented candle. Or check out the wonderful museum shops in our area.
3. Lose (or unplug) your television. Do you know, I have not had a television for nine years? Not only do I save loads on cable bills, but I am not exposed to all those commercials. If I watched TV, I am sure I would buy a lot more stuff, probably stuff I didn’t need in the first place. A TV-free life is awesome. We spend so much time doing fun things that we would have ordinarily wasted in front of the TV. I get my news from the Internet, and I also download shows for free, and rent movies from iTunes, so when I need a TV fix, I can always do that. But on balance, I spend a lot less time in front of the computer watching those shows than if I had a TV. If you’re brave, just try unplugging your TV for the holidays. The empty space is PERFECT for a Christmas tree 🙂
4. Buy the same thing for everyone on your list. The reason why this saves money is because you can often find bargains this way and you don’t spend a lot of time trying to find presents and then spending more than you intended in frustration. For example, I have to buy more presents for more than a dozen people who work with my son at his school. It can get very expensive buying fourteen or more presents. When you buy gift bags in bulk, or you find a nice deal on candles on ornaments, snap them up. I also have three women in my life: my mom, my sister, and her girlfriend. It is pretty easy to get them all the same thing (such as shower gel, but in different scents).