2008-12-25 / Features

Survive The Holiday Shopping Season

More so than ever before, the word most associate with the holiday season nowadays isn't "Christmas" or "joy" or even "vacation". Instead, many people are simply hoping to "survive" once the holiday season hits full swing. Arguably the most hectic time of the year, the holidays can also be the most stressful, particularly when it comes to holiday shopping.

Surviving the stresses of holiday shopping is no small task. However, the following tips should help make this season more about "joy" and less about "survival".

* Pay in cash. Much of the stress associated with holiday shopping surrounds a shopper's bottom line. With credit and even debit cards, it's easy for shoppers to stretch their budgets and overspend, which greatly contributes to the stress of the season. To avoid overspending, make all of your holiday purchases in cash. Visit the mall with cash in hand, leave your credit cards at home and tell yourself you're only capable of spending what's in your wallet. You can't spend cash you don't have, so making purchases in cash could be your way of policing your purchases and reducing the stress that finances create come the holiday season.

* Shop early. The earlier you start your holiday shopping, the less stressful it's likely to be. While everyone seems to know at least one person who begins their holiday shopping in summer or fall, that's not really necessary. Instead, think about starting in November or commit to shopping in early December. By getting an earlier start, the lines are likely to be shorter at the stores; parking will be easier to find; and the stores are more likely to have what you're looking for.

* Use technology. For many, the Internet's greatest gift is cutting down on the time they used to spend waiting on line while doing their holiday shopping. Shopping online greatly reduces the time it takes to buy gifts for all those on your shopping list. And since the Internet never closes, you can do your online shopping at your leisure without having to worry about what times the stores open or close. If you plan on doing your shopping online, you'll want to do so sooner rather than later. Shipping is always an unpredictable variable when it comes to buying online, so leave plenty of time for your gift to arrive before the big day.

* Look for sales. While comparing and contrasting prices can take some time, it can also save you substantial amounts of money. Having more money than expected at the end of the holiday season is not only rewarding, but goes a long way toward lessening the stress associated with the holidays. Oftentimes, bigger chain stores allow you to buy discounted products on their Web site and then go pick the items up in the store, where they're listed at full price. So comparison shopping can even be done between a physical store and its virtual self.

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