Christmas is just around the corner! Aren’t you excited? But although this may be the merriest time of the year, admit it: It’s also the most exhausting! The holiday cheers come with a lot of stress — from the craziness of Christmas shopping to all the dizzying expenses.
But this Christmas is going to be a lot more stressful. With the threat of the pandemic still looming overhead, we have more policies to follow, more precautions to take, and more ultimately more worries! The past year has been extra challenging for most of us – physically, emotionally, and financially. This means we need to be more ma-diskarte when it comes to our usual traditions like Christmas shopping, gift-giving, and Noche Buena!
Although there will be fewer parties and less physical contact, you can still make this ChristMAS Masaya by avoiding these usual mistakes and following our recommended diskarte tips instead!
Don’t Buy Your Books, Movies or Music in the Store, Ever!
Why? Simply put, buying books, music and movies is always cheaper online. Sites like Amazon.ca or Indigo.ca offer most books, including current best-sellers, at half the U.S. cover price. Comparatively, you can almost always expect to pay full U.S. cover price at an Indigo retail store, even if the Indigo website offers them at a fraction of the cost.
Likewise, video games, Blu-rays and DVDS, though not as cheap as books, can often be found on special at Amazon.ca, and save your anywhere from 10 to 50 per cent. Music, if purchased digitally through the iTunes store, is usually 10 to 20 per cent less than buying the actual CD. And best of all, these online stores usually offer free shipping.
If you still prefer the actual experience of shopping in store, bring a notepad or smartphone and jot down the prices of the gifts you like, then go home and compare.
DO get updated with the new pandemic rules and requirements.
These are extraordinary times, and the rules change quickly. Case in point, it was just recently announced that it is mandatory to wear both a face mask and a face shield when going out of your home. To avoid any trouble, make sure you know the latest policies.
And if you’re like us whose family is in the province, you’re probably going to spend December trying to finish everything early so you could join millions of travelers rushing to go home to the people we love in time. However, due to the pandemic, we are now living in a completely different world. A lot of things have changed because of health and safety concerns and strict protocols are still in place.
DO buy in bulk when you can.
If you buy things paisa-isa, chances are you’ll have to go out more frequently to buy more, which is not encouraged in these extraordinary times. You also end up spending much more because these little purchases add up!
What we suggest: Buy in bulk, as this can reduce the number of times you go out and minimize contact with other people. This is important these days especially if you’re living with vulnerable individuals.
Another advantage of buying in bulk is that it’s cheaper in the long run. During Christmas season, another thing you can avail are bundle promos and freebies. You’ll find these in grocery aisles and areas near the counter so it’s easy to spot.
For example, Maggi Magic Sarap offers a Christmas Value Pack. If you buy a 14×3 pack (42 pieces), you’ll get a FREE 200g tomato sauce. You’ll proabably need both of these items this season so this freebies can add up to big savings. This promo is available in supermarkets, Shopee, and Lazada.
Do Listen to What People Want and Need Throughout the Year
Unless you are playing Santa for your kids, asking someone the week before their birthday or a holiday, “What do you want me to get you?” nine times out of ten, you’ll get the polite, “You don’t have to get me anything,” or the much more blunt, “I don’t need nothing.” Those who do tell you want they want or need will most likely ask for something very specific and typically outside your price range, especially kids. Then, you’re really on the spot.
A better method is to just listen to what people want or need. Check their social media to see if they are posting about a particular item or store. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and find an, “I want this” post.
When you’re talking to your gift recipient in person
Do Set a Budget
If your bank account is already channeling Scrooge, it’s time to take control and adopt the b-word – budget! Creating a computer-based budget in Excel can curb overspending and relieve monetary stress. Set a spending limit, keep a running tally of your purchases and the cash you have remaining.
If you’re permanently attached to your smartphone, download a free financial app such as Mint.com that will keep you updated on the go. Having visual reminders of your outgoing expenditures is a great way to squash shopping stress and stay on budget.
Do Always Check Online First!
Online shopping is not only convenient, fast and stress-free (imagine, no spirit-deflating parking space battles!), it’s also chock full of amazing deals. Starting on Black Friday (the Friday following American Thanksgiving), huge savings, and free or discounted shipping costs are only a mouse click away.
And if you love to comparison shop, sites such as PriceGrabber.ca can fuel your bargain hunting frenzy. What’s not to love? Just be sure to shop on secure websites only (look for https in the website’s URL) and keep an eye on your budget’s bottom line, so you don’t get too credit-happy.
DO reuse and recycle.
One thing a lot of us is probably guilty of is always buying new decorations or Christmas displays. But reusing old decors is not a bad idea. You can look for samples and tips online for inspiration and decorating hacks.
Don’t Ignore New Ways to Shop (and Save!)
Canadian group shopping websites such as Groupon and Living Social can offer money-saving deals on unique purchases and experiences. It’s not uncommon to find an item or activity on these sites listed at a fraction of its original cost. Join the savvy shopping brigade and save big bucks on gifts – all without enduring freezing temperatures and rude mall patrons.
Don’t Take Credit Cards To the Mall
For many Canadians, the stomach-churning reality of the damage that’s been done to their bank accounts only becomes clear when their mailboxes are overrun by bills in January. Avoid the New Year financial hangover – use cash or debit cards when shopping in person. When you actually see money leaving your wallet, you’re more likely to reign in your spree.
It’s not a myth – the variety and quality of merchandise on store shelves plunges as Christmas creeps closer. Don’t be left with slim pickings. Get into the game early to take advantage of sales and selection. Want another reason to start early? Many Canadian stores are launching their festive bargains on Black Friday, so the earlier you start checking off that shopping list, the better it will be for your wallet and your sanity.
Don’t Forget Impromptu Gifts
Friends and family always pop in unannounced during the holidays. Be prepared and avoid the fear that a ringing doorbell can create. Have wine, chocolates or gift cards wrapped and on hand as last-minute presents, just in case. A little preparation can eliminate a potentially embarrassing one-sided gift exchange.
Don’t Feel Bad About Making Things Easy
If you can’t think of a present that will knock their socks off, try a gift card to their favourite store, coffee shop or restaurant, or make a donation to a charity in their name. Remember, it’s the thought that counts and such tokens of appreciation are generous reminders that you care.