Holiday shopping is very exciting but, unfortunately always underestimated. Buying gifts for your family is a given, but what about relatives, friends, coworkers, bosses, teachers, neighbors, nurse, and the list goes on! So buying for everyone can cost a fortune.
On top of that, you don’t want your gift to blend in with the rest. Baskets, ornaments, and treats can, once graciously accepted, be thrown on the table with the rest of the goodies. So how do you get the biggest bang for your buck?
When choosing a gift, it must be creative, useful and have longevity. Let’s start by categorizing our gift recipients.
If your company does not participate in a Secret Santa gift exchange, you’re on the hook for a lot of gifts. Here’s some cool ideas:
Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, nieces, nephews …how do you not go broke?
and the list goes on……
There are many people in our lives who we want to recognize during the holidays (Postal Worker, Sanitation team, Security Guard, etc) so here are some ideas that can accompany a warm Holiday message:
The holidays are a time of giving, and the joy it brings to both the recipient and you is priceless. Fortunately, creative and worthwhile gifts don’t have to be too costly.
Good luck shopping this year and have a wonderful holiday season!
The fastest growing addiction in the US is online shopping. Ads pop up on our social media, news feeds and email. Boxes pile up in your closet of unopened packages. And then one day you notice you purchased the same item twice! Are you addicted to online shopping or any shopping for that matter? Let’s break down this latest epidemic.
A “Compulsive Buying Disorder (CBD)” was first described in the early 20th century as a compulsive disorder that left the patient with debt. Later in the century its classification was debated and eventually included with the personality disorders.
Compulsive buying is known as “oniomania” where one buys impulsively and excessively to the point that it leaves them in financial hardship. And despite their financial issues they continue to make purchases. We’ve used the term “shopaholics” to describe those addicted to shopping but compulsive buying connotes the lack sense of financial ruin that can ensue. The spending is an attempt to satisfy a need that never gets fulfilled.
Compulsive buying disorder may be seen in those who suffer from mania and bipolar disorder. During manic episodes excessive spending may occur. Additionally we may see CBD co-morbidly in those who suffer from eating, gambling, substance use, and mood disorders.
Compulsive online shopping occurs when purchases are made online, without much thought or planning, and at a frequency where it may interfere with one’s life. People who might have never become a compulsive shopper in a traditional store may become easily addicted to online shopping. Those who are compulsive online shoppers may exhibit any of the following:
So compulsive online shopping, as well as compulsive buying disorder, can affect relationships, employment, finances and health.
Various sources have put the range at 5-8% of the US population.
When one is able to shop from the comfort of one’s desk or work station, the “ease” factor drives more shopping. Avoiding the need to leave work or home to battle traffic and weather and long lines, is one of the biggest draws. Moreover, those who hate going into a store or dressing room, concerned others will see the sizes of clothes they are trying on, can now shop in the privacy in their own home. Additionally shopping allows one to fight the boredom they have at work or home and give one a sense of accomplishment. And once one has a successful and satisfying purchase, the reward centers of the brain are activated making one want to shop more.
Hence, shrewd marketing will appeal to the human psyche by any of the following:
Don’t give in to the ads. People must realize they are being bombarded with some of the most creative marketing manipulation known to mankind. We can’t fall for it. Why are we letting our smart devices dictate to us what we need in our closets, pantries or garages?
But to fight the urge to shop online excessively, we must:
If needed, compulsive shopping can be treated with therapy as well as medications including SSRI’s, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are efficacious in those with impulsive personalities or obsessive-compulsive disorder.
We’ve all witnessed the old lady at the grocery store holding up the line at the cash register while digging in her purse saying, “I have a coupon for that.” I used to think those ladies were crazy for clipping coupons to pinch pennies. But clipping coupons isn’t crazy; it’s cool, and it pays more than pennies.
I was skeptical the first time I committed my time to flipping through the weekly coupon book I receive in mail with the weekly ads from grocers and retailers. I used to just throw it in recycling without a second look. But when I was saving to buy a house, I committed to a lot of different ways to save money. Long had I saved money shopping online with Ebates, but never had I moved my money around so it could make more money for me. I started monitoring my income and spending and set savings and budget goals with free, online budgeting software. I transferred credit card balances from cards with high rates to cards with lower rates. And I started keeping a grocery list and sticking to that list when shopping. But when I first started clipping coupons, I went about it all wrong.
After clipping coupons I used to stuff them in an envelope, which I then stuffed deep into my desk drawer to be forgotten. I kept stuffing the envelope without going through its contents, so when I was moving into my new house, I finally went through the envelope to discover more than just a bunch of expired coupons. I had missed multiple opportunities to save money in my last trip to the grocery store alone. But now I have a system, and it seems to pay. On my last grocery trip I saved on an almost $40 total. I do that twice a month, which saves me every year. Here’s how I’ve been clipping coupons to save real money.
I follow my father’s first rule of grocery shopping: “I buy what’s on sale.” In our middle-class, American household, if it wasn’t in the ad, we weren’t eating it. And the special occasions that violated the rule were few and far between because my father often worked holidays. We had grilled cheese and tomato soup on Thanksgiving multiple times, which didn’t bother me because grilled cheese and tomato soup was and remains a favorite of mine. That probably wouldn’t have been the case if that tomato soup was made with water instead of milk, though, and that grilled cheese made with oil instead of butter. As a kid I didn’t consider that people might not be able to afford milk or butter. I just thought they were required for grilled cheese and tomato soup until I couldn’t afford them myself.
Now when I’m clipping coupons, I do so after flipping through each of the grocery store ads. I circle the items I need or want in pen and use pencil to indicate the items on sale that I’ll eventually need. Then I go through the coupon book clipping coupons for the items I’ve circled. That way, I’m get a discount on an already discounted item. I never use a coupon on an item at full price, but that doesn’t stop me from clipping coupons for items I know I’ll need.
Laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, toiletries—these are things we all need and, typically, a manufacturer’s coupon can be found for all them regularly. You should never have to pay full price for necessities. I always clip coupons for laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, bath soap, milk, eggs, protein-packed snacks and Newman’s Own Family Recipe Italian salad dressing. I’m a fourth-generation Italian-American who has tried many Italian salad dressings, homemade and otherwise, and Newman’s Own Family Recipe Italian is the best. And all profits go to charity. I keep those coupons so when the items do go on sale I have a coupon to use to compound my savings.
Old ladies have purses into which they stuff their coupons, but men aren’t going to stuff their wallets in a similar fashion. Most of us use a vehicle when we shop, though, so store your coupons there. That way you’re always prepared to take advantage of the extra $2 off laundry detergent when you happen to see it on sale at the store. I keep my coupons in the grocery bag I keep in my car, so when I feel the urge to get a few discounted donuts after 6 p.m. I can take advantage of some coupons for items that are on sale.
Don’t be the old lady digging for coupons at the cash register. You should have an idea of what coupons you’ll be using before you even get to the store, so keep out so you can see them and match them with the items you’re purchasing. You can choose self-checkout if you like, but I prefer going to a cashier. Never put a coupon on the belt at the cash register. Simply hand them over to the cashier, who will take them all off your bill at the end of the transaction anyways.
So you don’t get all the way home to find a coupon missing from your receipt, review your receipt before you leave the store. I look mine over as I walk to the exit because I have been guilty of losing money at the grocery store in the past because it’s seldom worth your time to go all the way back to the store to find the same cashier who has likely forgotten all about you and wants anything more than to try and solve an unfamiliar problem so you can save a buck. If there’s an issue, catch it early, and save yourself and others some aggravation.
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