According to a recent survey by the Bank of Montreal, Canadians plan to spend an average of $1,610 this holiday season. That’s up a little over 15% from last year. Sixteen-hundred and ten is a big number. And this is a survey, so people usually tend to underestimate their actual spends.
But, as the holidays fill the malls with joy and laughter, the mall halls are also decked with many temptations. New toys, gadgets, calling your name. Sure, there’s the small minority that can walk away from a deal, but the running majority of consumers end up buying on impulse.
An exercise in window shopping
- Managing your self control. With the holidays upon us, it’s a perfect time to break your consumer habits (and a bad time to break the bank). It’s also the time I learnt the best and the hardest lessons about temptations. All the new gadgets, toys, shoes, that were there the whole year, but you’ve only just noticed them, because you “had to” go there to buy so-and-so a gift. What to do? What to do?
- Leave your cash, cards and wallet at home. Before you click away, I’m not saying to be a grinch this Christmas. Just to be spend-conscious. But if you’re heavy in debt, it’ll be a real testament to your self control. Leave everything. Bring only your licence and a full tank of gas, if you’re driving and maybe your phone and health card, in case of an emergency. And some family and friends to tag along with. At this point it’s probably a good time to break it to your kids (to avoid an in-store meltdown), that you’re just going to the mall for fun; not buying any toys. You can promise them an ice-cream cone (or insert other bribe here) when they get home… Yeah, you can tell I’m not very good at this.
- Go window shopping. Walk around the mall, see it as a leisurely stroll. We’re not shopping today. You can touch, but you can’t buy. You’re just “researching” today. Go into all the stores you would normally go into, look at the new gadgets. This might seem like torture at first, but it’s all about self-discipline. It took a while, but now I can easily browse the electronics section without even batting an eye. If there’s something I really want. I go home, think about it and if I still want it, days later, then I plan to buy it. You may think it’s a last minute deal, but chances are if you do your research, you can find just about anything cheaper, somewhere else. Or just avoid the stores you go to altogether, but enjoy your visit to the mall, with your family, friends or whoever you decide to bring along. You don’t have to buy something to have a good time. Pack a snack (just as you would normally do for the kids) and a coffee. And skip the Frappuccinos.
- Learning to deal with the money you have. Okay, so you made it through a couple visits without spending any money at all. Fantastic! Now that you’ve had time to hum and haw about all the things you saw, put $20 in your pocket and go shopping. No plastic, just cash. Restricting yourself to just the $20, will make you aware of what you really want to spend your money on. And gradually increase. You’ll be more conscious of what you’re spending you’re money on.
Besides, there’s still a whole month till Christmas, what’s your rush? According to one survey, impulse buys are costing us Canadians $3,720 annually. But, If you can master the art of window shopping by practicing a little self discipline, you’ll have more money to spend on nicer gifts that actually mean something and on the things that really matter to you. Now, I’m talking about window shopping in a more literal sense, but of course the same idea can be applied to online or any other type of shopping.
Do you research before you buy? Or are you in impulse buyer?