It’s about that time of year when you might have already started thinking about what to give family and friends for Christmas. Personally, I can’t abide shopping in high stores – the crowds of people packed in tighter than a factory farmed chicken; the hideous odors of over-applied deodorants and all manner of perfumery; not to mention the terrible service of shop assistants who wish all their customers would just go away.
On the other hand, I happen to be an incredibly impulsive net-shopping addict. I’m like a kid in a toy shop on Amazon – “People who purchased this also purchased these:” is like poetry to my ears. So if you’re like me and have firmly decided to do all your Christmas shopping online this year – then congratulations, you’re already going to be paying far less than physical retail stores will charge – but let me show you some of the other tactics I employ to save money.
Save For Later – And Think On It
This a well-known paper-based approach to tackle impulse purchases, but online sites that save your basket can be used just as effectively. It’s simple really – instead of purchasing that item immediately, just add it to your basket, then shut the site down and promise yourself you can buy it if you still want it in a month. Amazon even has a specific “Save for Later” button.
Next time you log in to Amazon (or whatever site you’re using), take a serious look through whatever’s still saved in your basket, and most of the time that impulse purchase moment would have passed. Do you really think your dad will appreciate that electric pepper mill with toothpick attachment? Your sister doesn’t actually want that neon cat-scratcher, does she?
Of course, this relies on the site actually saving your basket for you. If not though – no problem. Just try to remember what it is you added – and if you can’t remember, then obviously it wasn’t that important!
You might also want to try this with your children – let them cut out and pin up, say, 3 items they want, onto a noticeboard. They have to stay there for a full month before you agree to buy them – so it forces them to really consider it. If they something else comes along in the meantime then they have to replace something already pinned up and restart the waiting time.
Save Your Basket – And Get a Coupon!
This is the same method but with a different result in mind. While implementing the “save your basket and think on it” tactic, I noticed that a lot of stores will automatically send out emails saying along the lines of “Hi, we noticed you added some items to your basket the other day/registered with us, but didn’t complete the order – perhaps this 10% coupon would help you?”.
If they don’t directly offer a coupon, they usually ask if there’s anything they can do to help – I suggest replying back with:
“Thanks, but I was trying to find a coupon you mailed me last year. I think I’ve deleted the email though – any chance you could hook me up?”
Half the time they’ll be more than happy to get you something in return for a sale. The key is in asking.
Searching For Coupons
This sounds a little obvious, but there must be so many people who just buy from internet sites without even searching for a coupon first, which is literally just throwing money away considering the amount of effort it takes. It used to be that coupon collection and thrift was a hobby for some – but now you’re just seconds away from coupons with the power of internet searching.
Sadly, the rise in popularity of coupon sites has also left a mountain of spammy clone sites that offer no more than simple affiliate links. So where do I personally go to find coupons?
FatWallet.com (US only): I use this for the latest GoDaddy coupons since I’m based in the UK.
MoneySavingExpert.com (UK): It’s nice to find UK specific site, and this one is an absolute treasure trove- not just for coupons but also freebies, a lively and helpful community forum, and general money saving advice. I have very few favorite sites on the internet – this is one of them – and I honestly can’t give much higher praise than that.
We’ve also covered quite a few coupons and deals sites before, so be sure to check those out when doing your Christmas shopping online.
Or… Don’t Give Into Consumerism
In all seriousness, the pressure each year to buy ever more expensive gifts for your loved ones is just disgusting. Christmas – or the winter solstice as some of us know it – is about spending quality time with family, eating and drinking well, staying cosy over the winter in front of a warm fire, and preparing yourself mentally for the year ahead. Spend time taking stock of things, reviewing your progress and goals for next year.
Whatever you do – don’t work yourself into debt for the latest gadget. But what about presents – are you supposed to just not give anything? Of course not. This year, I’ve been making homemade wines and biscuits for my family and friends, and I know they’ll be more appreciated than something shop bought. Put your time and effort into making something now, and the reward will be all that greater.
How about you? Do you have your eye on the latest iPad this Christmas, or will you be a non-consumer advocate too?
Do you have any favorite thrift loving sites you’ll be trawling for ideas this Christmas? Let us know in the comments, please!
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