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.

Office workers/coworkers – under $50

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:

  1.  Basket of $2-5 Gift Cards – Buy an inexpensive basket from a hobby store (or reuse last year’s), line it with tissue paper and decorative filler, place 10 gift cards (coffee house or donut shop would work pretty well at that price point), and throw some candy in the basket as well.
  2. Basket of Tools – Hammers, nuts and bolts from your nearby hardware store can be inexpensive and could make an awesome basket for those who could use an extra tool around the house.  And as long as they don’t lose it, it may last for years
  3. Basket of Scented Soaps – many bath and beauty shops sell these for $5 a piece, so make a basket with these and candy and let everyone grab one. Again, some longevity with this gift.
  4. Online Spanish (or language) course – many offices need bilingual staff and those who aren’t would love to learn.  Que bueno!

 

Relatives – under $20

Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, nieces, nephews …how do you not go broke?

  1. For the Chef – Grab a cookbook, some spices, and a tool and put it in a decorative bag or basket.
  2. For the Gardner – Grab some packets of seeds, small bag of soil and put in in a pot filled with decorative filler
  3. For the Auto Enthusiast – Grab some turtle wax, cloth, air freshener – you know the drill
  4. For the Coffee Drinker – Grab two mugs, a rich coffee bag, and add sweets to the basket
  5. For the Tea Drinker – Find as many flavors as you can and throw some honey in the basket…or a decorative mug
  1. Gift cards – movies, restaurants, can’t go wrong with these
  2. Books – not an easy pick since you need to do some detective work ensuring they hadn’t read your choice yet, but great price point
  3. Bottle of wine, goblets, candles, these can be flexible and creative
  4. Pedicure gift card
  5. For the pet lover – a how to book, toys, treats for their pet.
  6. For the one who loves to laugh – funny desk calendar, book of jokes, fart machine
  7. Cuddly blanket – make sure its not an obnoxious color, or better yet…why not? 

and the list goes on……

Acquaintances/buddies

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:

  1. Stocking of goodies (sunscreen, treats, phone case)
  2. Scarf or sport’s team hat
  3. Cool car accessory
  4. Box of treats, warm even better
  5. Gift card, etc.

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!

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in Money
Monday, 02 December 2019 20:25

Compulsive online shopping: Are YOU at risk?

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.

What is Compulsive Spending Disorder?

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.

What is Compulsive Online Shopping?

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:

  • Preoccupation with when they can go online to search items
  • Anxiety when one cannot go online
  • Purchasing items they don’t necessarily need
  • Spending beyond their budget
  • Hiding their shopping behavior
  • Feeling guilt after shopping
  • Struggling at work or at home because of the time devoted to online shopping
  • Other addictive or impulsive behaviors such as binge eating, drinking, or substance abuse

So compulsive online shopping, as well as compulsive buying disorder, can affect relationships, employment, finances and health.

How many people suffer from Compulsive Online Shopping Disorder?

Various sources have put the range at 5-8% of the US population.

Why are people becoming addicted?

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:

  • Displaying or popping up attractive ads on your browser or social media
  • Disrupting your feed, reading material or game with above ads
  • Following your likes, searches or prior purchases and suggesting related products
  • Offering deals and coupons that can be used immediately
  • “Rewarding” the buyer with positive feedback after the purchase such as, “You SAVED 15%!”
  • Allowing the purchase to be done so quickly and easily that one has less of an opportunity to ponder the purchase
  • Sending reminders of a reorder

So how can one avoid becoming a compulsive online shopper?

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:

  • Budget expenditures and stick to it
  • Have hobbies
  • Avoid boredom, or going to the internet when bored
  • Limit internet time
  • Stop ads and unsubscribe on out tablet or smart phone
  • Deputize a family member to be our go-to when we want authorization to purchase something online.
  • Ask ourselves prior to purchasing:  Do I really need this item?
  • Seek counseling if unable to stop

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.

Published in Opinion
Saturday, 16 June 2018 17:03

Clipping coupons is cool, and it pays

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.

1. Never use a coupon on an item at full price

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.

2. Always clip and keep coupons for necessities

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.

3. Keep your coupons with you at all times

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.

4. Practice proper coupon etiquette

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.

5. Review your receipt before you leave the store

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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Published in Money