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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 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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