The biggest shopping days of the year are approaching. This year Friday, November 25th has been designated as Black Friday with the following Monday being advertised as the best online shopping day. This may be an opportunity to pick up some gifts on your list but buyer beware – unless you are really focused and have a game plan, Black Friday could be setting you up for failure.
What does shopping have to do with healthy living, you may be wondering. Well let’s face the honest truth about the holidays: most of us spend more money than we can afford on gifts and food and then when our credit card bill comes or we fall short the next month, it comes back to bite us. This is not contributing to your health and wellbeing.
You don’t have to spend more than you have to enjoy the holidays, even if you have children to buy for. You can reduce your stress levels by minimizing your shopping and spending within your limits. In our busy lives, time is the most important thing you have to offer. Aim to spend it with people you love and share experiences together.
Top 10 Black Friday Survival Tips:
- Have a spending plan for your family – what can you truly afford to spend on gifts, food, and good cheer this year?
- Make a list of things people want and/or need. Next spend a little time online or in stores looking at prices of these items and write them down. Is it within your spending limits? If not, adjust your list until it is.
- STICK TO THE LIST NO MATTER WHAT! No “poor me” pity parties allowed. Instead of feeling upset that you can’t have everything you want, think about how awesome it will be not to go into debt for Christmas. THAT’S a gift everyone should give themselves!
- Track what you spend. I’m not opposed to bringing a little calculator (or using your cell phone calculator) with you on your shopping adventure. Before each purchase, you can calculate what the final price should be with the sale and the tax. For example, an item that is $49.99 on sale for 30% would actually cost $34.99 + tax. (100%-30% = 70%, multiply $49.99 x 0.70) When you are at the checkout you can make sure the sales person rings it in correctly. You can also keep a running total of your purchases (cash makes this really easy – when you run out, you are done).
- If you are hitting the stores, pack a few easy snacks instead of buying them. You can choose healthier options and won’t be cutting into your shopping funds. Win-win.
- Wear comfortable clothes. This isn’t a fashion show and your mission is to get in, get what you need, and get out. It’s going to be chaotic, especially if you are travelling to the States, so make sure that you are comfortable.
- Try finding the item used first if appropriate and possible. Obviously, nobody wants previously enjoyed fruitcake or a half-empty container of body wash but you can find electronics, sports equipment, board games, and lots of toys on Ebay, Kijiji, and at local thrift stores. Clearly this will have to be done before Black Friday hits.
- Shift your thinking. Sure it’s nice to have presents under the tree for the kids, but I’d like to point out that if they didn’t watch so much TV and weren’t targets of advertising all the time, they might not put so much pressure on their parents to buy them stuff. It may be a hard switch at first, but spending time together really is more important than the latest greatest toy all the time. Besides, in the long run the child who has one really amazing thing that they really want will be much happier than the one who gets everything they want and never has enough. Don’t feel guilty or like a “bad parent” because you don’t spend tons on Christmas presents.
- Make things special. Things are special because we say they are. Create some traditions with your family that add some magic to the holidays. Whether it is a special song, a made-up ceremony for decorating your Christmas tree, going carolling, or having an afternoon of sledding, those are the things that make the holidays memorable.
- Say thank you. It’s easy to get lost in the sales and shiny paper and forget how blessed we are. There are roughly 3.5 million people living in poverty in Canada. You might not get everything you want this year, but chances are you have a roof over your head, a feast on your table, and love and joy in your life. There’s nothing wrong with buying presents, but don’t forget about those in need. Even a few pairs of socks is tremendously appreciated!