Hopefully, you escaped Black Friday with minor damage to your wallet and well-being. But if you have gifts yet to buy, there are plenty of ways to organize what remains in order to save money and reduce stress. After all, Christmas is a time for giving, celebrating, and looking back fondly on the past year.
With that in mind, here are five tips to a financially successful, streamlined, and low-stress holiday shopping experience:
1. Consider Gift Cards
There’s probably at least one person on your list that is hard to shop for. So don’t wander the stores for hours in frustration, simply pick up a gift card instead. They’re convenient, easy to buy, and the recipient will be sure to choose something they really want. For extra savings, visit a site like Plastic Jungle for discounted gift cards.
2. Shop During Extended Hours
Most retailers offer extended shopping hours during the holidays, especially in the week leading up to Christmas. For example, Macy’s has been open 24/7 in years past and, along with other retailers, will likely be this year as well. So just skip shopping when it’s crazy on the weekend, and go when you expect less of a crowd. Heading out one night after the kids are in bed is a great idea.
Trying to fit in a shopping trip on a lunch break or after a long day can be a recipe for disaster. If you belong to a gym, give yourself a good workout before shopping so you’ll be relaxed and focused. If you don’t, at least take a leisurely walk in the neighborhood to clear your head. Shopping on a full stomach can reduce holiday stress as well.
4. Shop Online
Cyber Monday may be over, but that doesn’t mean the online deals are gone. In fact, sales will be ongoing until just a few days before Christmas. Plus, online shopping presents many conveniences, such as the ability to instantly research potential gifts, compare prices, and avoid overworked sales staff. And even if your purchase doesn’t qualify for free shipping, you can often find an online discount code that will.
5. Consolidate Your Trips
If possible, consider consolidating your shopping into one last trip. Even taking a half day off of work may be worth it. Identify the stores you need to visit, map out a driving route, and stick to your plan. This way, you won’t feel rushed, will probably not be in stores during peak hours, and can get everything taken care of.
If you have trouble with customer service this holiday season, do what you can to cut the employees some slack. Salespeople are likely overworked and doing all they can to attend to the crowds. In fact, the best way to reduce your stress level is to remember the spirit of the season and let your positive attitude be the gift you share with everyone you come in contact with. And taking the time to plan ahead and organize your shopping experience will make it that much easier.
How do you save money and reduce stress during the holidays?