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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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