“Stress” and “holiday season shopping” go hand in hand. For some people, they’re synonymous, as in, there’s no doing one without feeling the other.
But does it really need to be that way? Ah, a question for the ages, if ever there was one. So, to get to the core of all this, let’s first re-visit Einstein’s definition of insanity, i.e., repeating the same mistakes over and over again while hoping for a different outcome. How does that apply to shopping? Easy. If you’re still buying for the same number or people (perhaps even more?), and still shopping in the same stores over roughly the same period of time, etc. how can you reasonably expect that this year will be any less stressful than the year before. The sad truth is, you can’t.
Even saving money these days can be a stressful process all in itself, chasing down one Cyber Monday sale here, trying to make the best use of this coupon there, and on and on it goes.
Bottom line, you have to WANT a less stressful holiday shopping experience or you have no chance of succeeding. Attitude and commitment are everything, just as they are in breaking any bad habit, including and perhaps especially smoking.
So from our house to yours, and once your “I want less stress” commitment is squarely in place, follow these helpful hints and you WILL experience less stress:
- Put a lid on it. We’re talking your budget here, of course. Saving money isn’t just about buying something on sale. Because sometimes all the encourages you to do is buy that person a little something extra to assuage the guilt you feel for spending less on them than usual, which is the whole object of trying to save money! How to climb outside that vicious circle? That leads to point #2 below.
- Spreadsheet it. Set up a holiday shopping spreadsheet, even if you don’t know the first thing about XCEL or any other computerized organizers. Paper and pen still work just fine. The point is, make a list of everyone you buy for, then additional columns for gift ideas, gifts purchased, and money spent. And constantly add that last column and compare it to your budget ceiling. That gives you the opportunity to adjust on the fly. More importantly, it will allow you to feel like you’ve gained control over the budget vs. allowing it to control you.
- Shopping online doesn’t make it less personal. If you’re a devout mall goer, you’re not going to suddenly purchase all your gifts online. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do some of your shopping that way. Once you open your mind to it, you’ll find it’s a great way to buy things you don’t need to shop for, like the book your friend has been asking for and the lunch gift certificate you routinely buy for your hairdresser. Sit down, pour a cup of green tea, and do some shopping. And guess what? There will never be a line at the register.
- Pump yourself up. If you begin a shopping excursion expecting to be aggravated, you no doubt will be. So play little tricks on yourself to stop the aggravation before it stops, like focusing on the smiling faces of loved ones as they open your gifts. It probably wouldn’t hurt to pop on a set of head phones, too, so you can listen to some soothing music while making the rounds, and thus cancelling out the sounds of shopping.
At Absolute Air, we wish you all the calm, good feelings, and quality family time the holidays have to offer.