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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 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

      More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

      Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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