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They hype. The hysteria.
Yes. We’re right in the thick of it. ‘Tis the season to hook a drain tube up to your wallet and watch your cash flow disappear faster than a Kardashian marriage.
But, it’s ok, because it’s all in the name of “SAVING MONEY”
People Love To Save Money One Day A Year
In the day and age of “ONE DAY DEALS”, there’s more hype than ever over saving a TON of money buying your loved ones the “perfect gift.” Just Google the term “Black Friday deals” and you’ll be hit with a barrage of news articles, store websites with dedicated shopping sections, and even an entire website dedicated to display ALL the deals surrounding the saddest day of the year.
With MILLIONS of dollars spent advertising all the “savings” around a single day, it’s no wonder people jump in line (sometimes for days at a time!) to make sure they don’t miss out. Everyone is led to believe that they will be saving SO MUCH MONEY that it’s worth it to forego showers for up to a week and stand in line with a bunch of people you’d never invite to your home so you can POSSIBLY run over a child in the midst of your B-line to TV section where you can wrestle someone to the ground over last year’s TV model with no features…just to save $50.
Holiday shopping, and especially Black Friday, has turned into a MANIA, where people lose their minds over a few deals on electronics and video games. It does not surprise me that the average US household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt! People love to pretend that saving money is a priority, but in reality, they want an excuse to buy something they CANNOT WAIT FOR, and Black Friday gives them the golden excuse.
Let’s Be Honest, Shall We?
But every commercial we see, or advertisement we read tries to give us the feeling that by SPENDING we are really SAVING money (hint: we’re not). They also use words like “stress-free” and “you deserve this” as a way to help you part with your money on impulse.
Interestingly enough, NPR.org had an interview with a retail analyst from Forrester Research, and they confirmed this exact sentiment. Here are a few quotes from that interview:
“Overall, the best holiday deals don’t happen on Black Friday. They usually happen right before Christmas and after. Analysts have been saying that to shoppers for years, and it’s something we should all know, but we still go out.”
“Kuhnen says our financial decisions are governed essentially by two centers in our brain. One is the fear anxiety center — the part of our brains that reacts to panic or makes us run away from danger. The other is the reward center — the part that’s a trigger when we’re happy, Kuhnen says.”
“That go-for-it impulse is what makes the holiday season run. Every single part of the holidays — the music, the food, for some of us the family — goes to get us excited and to activate that primitive part of our brain…..
So they tend to take on more financial risk, they tend to prefer, much more strongly, immediate rewards rather than delayed rewards….”
So as we can see, the deck is completely stacked against us, with millions and millions of dollars in research planned out to suck consumers dry, and make them feel good about going further into debt at the same time.
A Different Approach
What if we could stack the deck in our favor and approach the holidays with a plan that truly allows us to save money? Not in the “I saved $19 on a knock-off version of monopoly” kind of way.
Let’s approach this holiday season with our eyes wide open. Let’s approach it with an actual MONEY plan.
Step By Step Guide To Your Holiday Shopping
Armed with the knowledge that someone is trying to sell you something YOU DON’T REALLY NEED at every turn, follow the below bullet-proof guide to ensure you buy all the gifts you WANT, and nothing you don’t.
- Make A List Of Names. First thing’s first, make your shopping list of names. For us, we have a list of about 20-25 people (a LOT, I know) that we write down. Making this list also helps decide who you are NOT going to be shopping for. This may be a difficult decision, but better to make it now than when you are in the throes of despair between the LEGO aisle and the board game aisle in Toys R’ Us. This is the foundation of your holiday shopping plan.
- Come Up With A Number. How much do you love the people on your list? Pick a number between 1 and 50 and assign it to each person. JOKING! What you need to do next is come up with a budget for each person on the list. This requires that you pick a TOTAL budget number for gifts, for ALL people on your list. Then you need to split that total between the people on your list, making sure you DO NOT plan to spend more than your budgeted amount. For example, if you have $500 to spend on gifts, the total amount you plan to spend on each person in the list CANNOT be more than $500.
- Come Up With Gift Ideas. You (hopefully) know each person on your list. They are family or friends that you plan on buying a gift for, and you should be able to think of a few things each person would like. Come up with 2 or 3 ideas for each person, keeping in mind how much you can spend on them. This will help inform your shopping plan to make sure you don’t wander around stores for too long trying to think of what to buy.
- Keep An Eye Out For Deals. Now that you have your shopping list and budget, you can be on the lookout for deals on things that you can buy for the people on your list. THIS POINT IS KEY! This will help keep you from getting pulled into DEAL MANIA and help you ignore all the ads about things you don’t really need, and the people on your list don’t actually want.
Ideally, you can use this plan starting at the beginning of the year, save each month for Christmas gifts, and buy most of your gifts before the holidays even start.
But the beauty of this plan is it works just as well starting RIGHT NOW! How do I know? Because we’re going to use this exact plan for our shopping this year. I know, I know, I should have already taken care of this, but we didn’t make this list in January, and are going to start shopping now. We’ve already picked up a few gifts and have money set aside, but haven’t written down all the names and gift ideas yet. We’ll be completing our plan and hitting the stores with a FAIL-PROOF plan of action.
And because it’s the holidays and I want to help people with their own Christmas shopping, I’ve put together this plan in a PDF that you can print and use during your holiday shopping! It’s a full checklist with all the items mentioned above, the perfect way to organize your holiday shopping plans!
I hope you can avoid the retail madness, and enjoy the freedom of having a money plan this holiday season. Happy shopping! 🙂