Shop smart this festive season
By: Natasha Archary
Well it’s that time of the year again as November brings with it a fury of shopping mayhem & pandamonium. The festive season is probably the worst time of the year for working moms who are already so time-strapped that seasonal preparations & festive season shopping is almost always reserved for the last second.
Who has time to make gift lists, shop, wrap presents, decorate a tree & still ensure that Christmas lunch isn’t a disaster? It’s all too much and besides crowded malls with insane “festive season deals” are not an ideal space of safety for moms with kids in tow. Before you loosen your purse strings at the temptation of getting everything you want and don’t want at ridiculously marked down prices, restrain the urge to get your swipe on because there is a way to get your festive shopping done & keep you on budget this silly season.
We all have fallen prey to enticing advertising, cleverly “marked down” items or “buy-one-get-one-free” deals and may think we’re being frugal and penny-wise but in reality these are just clever marketing ploys to get you spending more than you should on stuff you probably don’t even need.
How not to fall prey
The bottom line is that no matter who you are or what your income bracket is, your seasonal shopping budget should guide your festive shopping. Work out your over-all shopping budget after all your usual expenses have been accounted for. This will ensure you don’t tap into your monthly obligations and will in the long run save you from bad credit rating.
Don’t feel pressured to make your purchases at one store, shop around and online to see where the best deals are and make your decision once you have weighed all options. In South Africa festive season specials and savings start towards the middle of November, which will give you more than enough time to start shopping at your leisure. It is usually around this time that most malls offer longer shopping hours for you to take advantage of as well.
Postpone your purchase
With that said, don’t go out and start your spending spree at the first whiff of silly season sales. Postpone your buys until the first week of December when competitors do whatever is possible to tap into the festive rush because this is when prices really start dropping. Of course, there’s still Black Friday towards the end of November and this is usually the best bet for scoring insane deals.
For the seriously time-strapped mom, online shopping offers an alternative convenience at the click of a mouse. Most South Africans are still skeptical about online shopping and it’s understandable, however in an age of digital innovation there have been improvements to online shopping safety and these are a few guidelines to follow:
Hit the search engine on your PC and research the online stores you are planning on making purchases from. Pay careful attention to links and advertising on the sites especially when entering payment information. Be sure to check out their returns policies and delivery options. This will allow you to plan and schedule your purchases and deliveries sometimes even upto the minute of Christmas eve. Hey, whoever said couriers weren’t Santas little helpers? All in all, online shopping saves time and it can be done in the comfort of your home instead of packed malls and stores and frenzied shoppers.
Multiple purchases from the same online store can save you on delivery costs no matter the basket size, you will only pay for one delivery with some sites even offering free delivery on purchases over a certain amount so be sure to take advantage of these offers to help you save big.
Before making an online purchase be sure to read reviews from previous buyers who rate the product, delivery and overall purchase to give you some peace of mind before placing your order. Read up on the product information, check out the images and be sure to do comparative quotes from other online stores to make a more informed choice.
THE UNREAL URGENCY
Yet another commercial trap to be weary of. The “1-day-only sale” or “Limited Stock” deals. Don’t take the bait. All stores run these to attract the masses and it is a clever marketing ploy but don’t fall victim to these advertising gimmicks. Chances are these stores will advertise the same product at even more ridiculously marked down prices a week later, citing “Due to public demand” or “Manager’s Orders” as the reason behind fooling you in the first place.
THE FEAR OF LOSS
Shopping is such an emotionally charged activity that the fear of missing out on a deal especially during the festive season, is often the deciding factor in last minute splurge buys that often break the bank. Here’s why you shouldn’t let that influence your spend:
Two words – FINE PRINT! More oftent than not, advertisers are deceptive with their big headline offers which leave consumers disappointed in-store. Specials with an asterisk (*) and terms and conditions are always worth taking a closer look at. Sure you may be saving a few extra Rs but you could just be paying for a later model, a soon to be redundant brand or even smaller item. Sometimes saving money comes at bigger costs that need to be carefully considered.
It’s a frustrating and chaotic time of the year and the to-do lists are endless but your shopping doesn’t have to be time consuming nor cause you undue stress. Take it at your leisure and try not to leave things until the last minute which will cause your stress levels to soar even more. Be practical, learn to say no to requests that are unnecessary be it for your kids or your own wants – remember consumerism is just another way to control you.