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5 Do’s & Dont’s Of Holiday Shopping

5 Do’s & Dont’s Of Holiday Shopping

Holiday season is upon us and that means two things, a bigger waistline and a smaller wallet. Whether we’re travelling, partying or buying gifts for family, friends and “more-than-friends”, it’s the most expensive season of the year.

With so much enthusiasm for the holidays, the average person expects to spend upwards of $805 during the holiday season with $460 spent on gifts for family members, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2015 Survey. But just because we’re willing to spend, doesn’t mean we should spend carelessly. Here are a few tips on the do’s and dont’s of holiday shopping, to stretch your dollars even further.

The 5 Holiday Shopping Do’s:

1. Make a Budget

Before you head to the mall, or Amazon, first establish your total budget for the holidays. Then, write a list of all the people you need to buy gifts for. Now, divide the number of gifts into your total budget, and that will tell you how much you have to spend per person. For example, if you have a total budget of $500, and are buying gifts for 10 people, that’s $50 a person. Now you may decide to spend more on certain people over others, that’s fine, just make sure to then reduce your budget for the others appropriately.

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2. Be Opportunistic

Give yourself some flexiblity. Start shopping early enough to take advantage of deals, like Black Friday. Do research online, and price shop. Also use online shopping apps like PriceGrabber.com, that let you compare prices across different retailers and automatically send you notices of price drops for your target gifts. Doing all your shopping on one day, in one mall, can really limit your savings opportunities.

3. Do The Double Discount Dip

You know the 15% discount or $30 credit you get for opening up a new credit card at the point of sale? Those could add up to significant savings, especially when their combined with items which are already on sale! While most folks will tell you to avoid them like the plague, the fact is, if you pay off the cards right away, it’s found money. Just make sure you have the discipline to pay off your balance completely in the first month, if you can’t trust yourself take a pass on this strategy.

4. Get Free Shipping

There’s no sense spending the time to find a 20% discount on a $50 item, if you’re going to be charged $17 in shipping. Always make sure to shop on sites that offer free shipping, and if there are minimums, see if it makes sense to bundle a few gifts together to get the discount. Also make sure you shop early enough so you don’t have to spend extra on shipping to get it delivered in 2 business days.

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5. Get Rewarded

This is one of the seasons where you’ll be spending the most throughout the year. Get rewarded for it and use a rewards credit card for all your purchases. Whether you want to use a cash back credit card or travel rewards card is up to you, but used properly you should get between 2%-5% in earnings from a premium credit card and 1% with a no fee rewards card. Using your credit card may also give you purchases assurance, protecting you from damage or theft for 90 days after your purchase.

The 5 Holiday Shopping Dont’s

1. Avoid Spending More Than You Have

The holidays are supposed to be festive occasions. Putting yourself into debt to buy someone a gift is no one’s idea of fun. Stick to your budget. The people you’re buying gifts for are presumably friends and family – they don’t want to enrich they’re lives at your expense. If they do, find some new friends.

2. Don’t Be Cheap, Be Frugal

There’s a difference between being cheap and frugal. Being frugal means you’ll do the work to find the cheapest price for an item. Being cheap means you’re willing to sacrifice quality for price and get a poorer quality item, just because it’s cheaper.

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3. Don’t Buy It, If You Can Make It

I don’t know about you, but my most memorable gifts have always been the ones that were made for me, like a blanket knitted by my grandmother. While that may be unrealistic for many modern adults, it’s certainly something we can ask of our kids. Instead of giving them money to buy us something, why don’t we ask them to give us a non-monetary gift, like a painting, a video, a hand written card, a photo album of their favourite family pictures, etc…

4. Be Wary Of The Non-Returnable

Getting items on sale can be dicey, since many are final sales. Unless you’re positive it won’t be returned, you may want to hold off on the purchase. A final sale means you cannot return or exchange the gift. Spending all that money, only to find out you bought the wrong sized shirt, or a video game your nephew already has, is frustrating. So either avoid non-returnable items, or make doubly sure it’s the right gift.

5. Don’t Pay For Return Shipping

Let’s face it, not every gift is a success. However, with so many purchases now made online, returning items is more common and trickier than ever. Make sure whoever you buy from online, does not charge you a shipping cost for returning or exchanging items – this is especially true of clothing, where sizing is so uncertain. Finding retailers like Walmart, Zappos, LL Bean & Nordstrom that offer free returns is essential.

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The holidays are meant to be fun. Your kindness shouldn’t be a financial burden. Set yourself a budget and do the best you can within your means. Most of all, use the time off during your holidays to create unforgettable moments with friends, family and loved ones! Time well spent is the most precious gift of all.

Featured photo credit: Women with high heels and shopping bags – Three girls sitting on stairs and chatting after buying presents ,oneinchpunch via shutterstock.com

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Marc Felgar

Marc Felgar is an aging, health & senior care expert focused on improving the lives of mature adults.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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