Got too many items on your holiday shopping list? Or rather, have you had a lot of unplanned purchases already?
There are more temptations to overspend during the holidays than any time of the year, turning even the stingiest person into a shopaholic. The urge to splurge on Christmas shopping is so strong, it's hard to resist.
It isn't easy to control impulse buying, especially during the holiday season, but you certainly can! We've compiled a list of Christmas shopping tips for keeping your holiday spending in check.
10 Christmas Shopping Tips to Curb the Urge to Splurge
Here are 10 practical Christmas tips to help you beat the urge to splurge when shopping.
1. Fulfill Your Important Financial Obligations First
What's the first thing that comes to your mind as soon as you receive your 13th month pay or bonus? "I should upgrade my phone." "I can finally buy that imported bag!" "I deserve a new pair of shoes."
We often think of ways to spend each time we get a large sum of money. But soon, reality slaps us hard in the face: piling bills, debts, and depleting or non-existent savings.
Before you go on a Christmas shopping spree, allocate your money first to things that matter. Clear or pay down your debts, increase your emergency fund, and diversify your investments (or start investing, if you haven't done it yet).
Back to the main article: Holidays in the Philippines and Long Weekends Guide
2. Set a Realistic Christmas Shopping Budget
Done taking care of your important financial obligations? Good! Now, use what's left of your bonus as your Christmas shopping fund.
But don't spend it just yet. Many people blow their budgets because they spend aimlessly without thinking of the total cost and its breakdown. Make a clear-cut budget for your Christmas shopping first.
Remember that spending for the holidays isn't just about the actual gifts. You also have to factor other costs into your Christmas shopping budget: gift wrappers, greeting cards, shipping fees, commuting cost, and food.
To make your budgeting easy and organized, create a table on Excel showing the total cost, total spent to date, remaining amount, and expense breakdown. You can use something similar to the holiday shopping budget template shown in the image above.
Alternatively, consider downloading a budgeting app for tracking your holiday spending.
3. Make a Holiday Gift Shopping List
Channel your inner Santa: Make a list—and check it twice—before you shop for Christmas presents. This helps you stick to your planned purchases and fight the urge to buy stuff for yourself that you don't really need.
What should your holiday gift list include?
- Names of people you'll buy presents for
- Gift ideas for each recipient
- Price range for each gift or recipient
- Name of the store where you'll buy each gift
- Status (whether you've finished buying each gift or not)
Be practical when planning your holiday presents. Sometimes the most effective gifts aren’t things people want, but things people don’t realize they need. Try thinking outside the box, but be mindful of your recipient’s preferences.
Got a cousin who’s redecorating their home? Find tasteful but functional furnishings like bookends or storage containers. Got a friend with a creative streak? Pay attention to the art supplies or writing materials they like. Can’t think of anything? Find gift certificates from department stores and other specialty boutiques your recipient goes to.
4. Use a Prepaid Card
If you can't seem to curb your urge to overspend, then you've got to take drastic moves. One of them is to just leave your credit card at home when you're going somewhere you're likely to shop impulsively—at least until the holiday season is over.
A prepaid card is a good alternative to use, as it allows you to spend only within the budget you've set. Just load an amount according to your Christmas shopping budget and use it like a credit card for your holiday expenses.
5. Understand What Triggers Your Impulse Buying and Act on It
Ask yourself: "What motivates me to buy impulsively?"
Be honest with yourself. Knowing your spending triggers helps not only to control your urge to splurge but also to make wise decisions when Christmas shopping.
For instance, if you usually splurge when you're stressed (with the holidays increasing your stress further), find other affordable ways to relieve stress. You can do yoga, jog around the neighborhood, and other exercises. Studies have shown that several weeks of exercise such as walking can improve people's ability to sustain their self-control.
Love online shopping? Those tempting ads on Facebook and Instagram can easily lure you into hitting the "Add to Cart" button. Consider taking a social media break during the holidays. This is also a good strategy for people who are conscious of their image and give in to impulse buying to look good on social media.
If a social media detox isn't possible, simply unfollow online sellers on social media in the meantime to avoid temptations.
- Holiday Money Mistakes You Should Avoid
- How to Save Money This Christmas: 8 Tipid Tips to Enjoy Your Quarantine Holidays
6. Know the Warning Signs of Impulse Buying
One of the best ways to fight the urge to splurge is to catch yourself when you're about to do it.
Before you place an item into your shopping cart, ask yourself: "Did I plan to purchase it? Or did I have the urge to buy it just now?"
If "no" is your answer to the first question, and "yes" to the second, then it's a sign of an urge to buy impulsively. Put that item back on the shelf—you'll later thank yourself for doing it.
7. Determine Your Wants vs Needs
Chances are there will still be products in your cart that you don't actually need. Before you head to the counter or while you're standing in line, ask yourself questions about whether you need a particular item or you just want it.
An effective way to judge between your wants vs. needs is to think whether or not a particular purchase will help you achieve your goals in life. For example, if you're aiming for a healthy lifestyle, then it's easy to decide that you don't need to buy that deep fryer on your shopping cart.
8. Focus on the Amount You're Spending, Not the Discount
Holiday sales left and right—so many temptations to splurge! Admit it—you feel proud of yourself when you score a huge discount at the mall. But that feeling won't last because chances are, your wallet will get thinner when you get home.
When Christmas shopping, why don't you focus on the amount you're spending for an item rather than the amount you'll save?
Let's say you'll purchase a product worth PHP 1,000 with a PHP 300 discount. If you focus on the savings, your mind is tricked to believe that you gained PHP 300 in your wallet. But if you focus on what you'll spend, you'll realize that you'll actually be 700 bucks poorer. See the difference?
Related article: Ultimate Guide to Holiday Mall Hours
9. Ask for Somebody Else's Opinion
If fighting the urge to splurge still looks like a battle you can't tackle alone, enlist the help of someone else.
Before you make a big purchase, get feedback first from people who know you well and can make smart buying decisions, like a partner, sibling, or friend. They may offer perspectives that you might not see yourself.
After letting someone review your purchase, you may realize that going for the cheaper option or discontinuing the purchase altogether is the wisest move to make.
10. Delay Your Purchase Decision
Ever noticed that during the holiday season, certain items are prominently displayed at the store entrance, tempting you to buy them, before you can enter the aisles? That's a marketing strategy to lure impulse buyers—don't fall for it.
If something caught your attention, walk past it and do your usual shopping. Give yourself time to think about it. Or you may forget about it altogether and go home realizing that it isn't worth buying at all.
Eyeing a gadget, appliance, or any high-ticket item? Wait at least two days before deciding whether to buy it or not. You don't have to rush your spending decision. You're more likely to make a rational decision after spending some time thinking about it.
Keep these Christmas shopping tips in mind, so you won't have to deal with a holiday hangover in January, a high credit card balance (or worse, a zero balance on your bank account), and a feeling of guilt and regret.
-  10 Tips on How to Budget and Organize Your Holiday Gift-giving List (HowStuffWorks)
-  What Motivates Impulse Buying? (Psychology Today)