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5 Last-Minute Holiday Shopping Tips to Beat the Holiday Rush

5 Last-Minute Holiday Shopping Tips to Beat the Holiday Rush

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    Think you can’t avoid the shopping frenzy of the holiday season? You might be one of those shoppers who want to wait to capitalize on holiday sales to get that big screen TV you have your heart set on or you might be the king or queen of procrastinating and prefer to wait until the last minute to accomplish things on your list. Either way, with preparation, you can improve your shopping efficiency and effectiveness so that you can better fulfill your wish lists. As with other errands, it’s key to do your homework before heading out so you can save time, money, and your sanity. These 5 last-minute holiday shopping hacks will help you get through the frenzy of this holiday shopping season:

    Compare prices before going to the store

    ‘Tis the season for holiday shopping, but don’t leave the house unless you’re prepared because malls and stores will be packed. First, write down the items you want to buy and use your smartphone as a price-comparison tool. Mobile apps like Amazon Price Check, Shelfbucks, and ShopSavvy let you compare prices on thousands of products. And many retailers will lower their price to match a competitor’s, so show them (on your phone).

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    Secondly, consider using coupon apps such as Ibotta, SavingStar, and Checkout 51. Printable coupon sites found online include Coupons.com and SmartSource. If shipping costs weigh on your mind, sign up for a 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, which offers free two-day shipping on eligible items.

    Guarantee your access to limited items

    The retail industry is implementing various practices to improve their customers’ buying experiences, so take advantage. For instance, Best Buy, and other big retailers, are issuing color-coded tickets to ensure that customers get the products they came for. Check out your retailer’s website and print these tickets so you won’t waste time staring at “Sold Out” signs. And call the store in advance to see if a certain product is available. Some outlets will let you reserve an item if you give them your information.

    Preparation is key, or you could leave the parking lot with nothing in tow. According to a 2015 study by Box Technologies, more than one-third (38 percent) of UK shoppers leave the store empty-handed because of long checkout lines, and 24 percent of respondents said five minutes is as long as they are prepared to wait before leaving without purchasing anything.

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    Digitize your transactions

    Swiping at the counter makes checkout much faster and more convenient. If you’re a cardholder, consider using mobile payment technology, such as Apple Pay or Capital One Wallet, to digitize your transactions. These payment technologies are designed to make beginning-to-end shopping a seamless and integrated experience. A mobile wallet avoids a paper trail of receipts, gift cards, and warranty cards that can easily get lost in the holiday shuffle, and conversely, a digital trail facilitates product returns, refunds, gift exchanges and other transactions more easily.

    A study by Capital One finds that nearly half (48 percent) of mobile wallet users plan to make at least one gift purchase through this technology — reflecting the growing adoption of mobile wallet. Capital One’s version helps shoppers get instant purchase notifications on their mobile device the moment their credit card is used, lock their card through their phone, as well as, digitize receipts and multiple gift cards at one time.

    Experts predict that mobile wallet will see record use this holiday season. It offers better security and retailers can store loyalty rewards and other enticements on your smartphone. Mobile accounts for over half (56 percent) of online store visits during the 2016 holidays, according to Adobe Digital Insights.

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      Get help from shopping assistants

      Target, Kohl’s, and Walmart are a few retailers who are providing “holiday helpers” to assist customers with shopping tasks, such as looking for related items and comparing similar products. In-store helpers can also go back to the aisles to fetch forgotten goods as the customer waits at the checkout line.

      Store assistants are helpful in multiplying your shopping efficiency. While there are other considerations in choosing which retailer you’ll patronize, you should call a store and see if they offer assistance to shoppers. When a store is crowded, frustrations can run high. A Box Technologies survey finds that 38 percent of shoppers leave the store empty-handed if they wait nine minutes or longer at the checkout line.

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      Protect yourself from scams

      ACI Worldwide predicts that online fraud attempts during this holiday season will rise by 43 percent in the US. The FBI recommends creating long passwords to protect your digital accounts from hackers. Experts suggest multi-word passwords such as “mycatisfurry” or “mywifelakersfan” that involve facts about your daily life that only you would know.

      And be weary of gift card scams, which become more common the closer it is to Christmas Eve. Gift cards are an alluring target for fraudsters because they can be easily resold. Ask the retailer if they have security measures involving gift cards, such as PIN numbers, scratch-off labels, magnetic strips, and activation of the card when the gift recipient redeems it (as opposed to immediately activating the card when the customer buys it).

      Holiday shopping is anything but jolly. But with preparation, you can overcome the rush and make fulfilling your wish lists a more enjoyable experience.

      Featured photo credit: Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

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      Marvin Dumont

      Entrepreneur, Disruptor

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      Last Updated on December 9, 2019

      5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

      5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

      Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

      Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

      Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

      1. Get Rationally Optimistic

      Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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      This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

      In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

      The result: no more mental stress.

      2. Unplug

      Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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      How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

      It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

      Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

      3. Easy on the Caffeine

      Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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      Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

      4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

      That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

      How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

      • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
      • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
      • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

      While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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      5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

      This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

      The result: mental stress will be gone!

      So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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      Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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