As the December holiday season gets closer and closer, many of us begin to prepare by baking, decorating, and shopping. Like the warm-up before a race, pop-up ads on Google, Amazon, and Facebook readily remind us about the mountain of bargains available.
The impact of these special offers, discounts, and sales goes far beyond a simple day like “Black Friday.” As bargain shoppers, these advertisements can cause us to reach for our credit cards, purchasing items for ourselves, instead of buying gifts for family and friends.
Even though these holiday deals promise to save us money, these sales can hinder retail self-control. In fact, many people find themselves acquiring an unwanted gift during this time of the year, debt. But the holidays need not cause financial stress. By following a few simple steps, you can shop mindfully during the holidays.
Pay in Cash
On average, Americans acquire $1,000 in debt during the holiday season. Often, we use credit cards to pay for our purchases, adopting the mentality, “buy now, pay later.” But, this mindset makes it easy to forgo retail willpower. However, paying for items in cash can curtail this impulsive behavior. Research shows paying for gifts in this way can help us stick to a budget. When we witness the money leaving our wallets, it’s harder to deny how much we’re spending.
Avoid Online Shopping
While convenient, online shopping makes it all too easy to lose self-control. With the click of a button, you can purchase a bundle of bargains, losing track of what you’ve spent. However, shopping at brick-and-mortar stores can help you to shop mindfully. Create a “gift list” before heading out to the mall. This can serve as a shopping map, ensuring you’ll only purchase items for those on your Santa List.
The holiday season is stressful. Not only are our calendars filled with special social events and family gatherings, but family dynamics can swell during this time of the year, making conflict more likely.
If you feel a burst of excitement after purchasing something, or if you use shopping as a way to manage your feelings, consider adopting some self-care strategies. Exercise, talking with a friend, or journaling can help you manage your emotions, making it more likely the holidays will feel like a success.
Give Experiences, Instead of Items
You can avoid needless spending by gifting friends and family with experiences instead of items. Research shows small acts of kindness help people feel loved, which means gifts don’t need to be extravagant. If you love to cook, offer to host dinner for friends.
If you enjoy hiking, take friends or family on a day-long adventure. You might even create coupons, sharing small acts of kindness that you’ll gift to loved ones throughout the year. For example, my husband often makes me laminated “gift cards,” offering me a “mom’s night out,” or dinner at my favorite restaurant.