Monday, 13 December 2010

Surviving Holiday Shopping

Today’s post is Something Different.  A friend of mine Jill Chivers runs a program and award winning website called Shop Your Wardrobe.  Jill has been on her own year-long challenge, a year without clothes shopping, which finishes on Wednesday, 15 December 2010.  As she is the expert on shopping (and not shopping), I asked her to share with us her guide to Surviving Holiday Shopping.  I hope you find it valuable!



Surviving Holiday Shopping
I’ve learned a lot about shopping by not doing it for a year.  My own year without shopping taught me a lot about the emotional reasons that we shop, and ways to use my time, money and energy better. Now we’re coming into the holiday crush and many people’s thoughts are turning to shopping.   

Shopping for Christmas gifts, shopping for special holiday food, shopping for one’s self as a treat.  I don’t know about you, but there are certain shopping centres that I actively avoid from about December 10 onward – they are madhouses!  If you found shopping confusing or over-stimulating before, then in the lead up to the end of the year and in the week leading up to the New Year, they are even worse! So here are our top tips for surviving shopping mayhem this

1.    Be prepared.  
      Yes, girl and boy scouts, this oldie but goodie is one worth applying to shopping.  Don’t go out of the house, headed towards the shop without a clear plan of where you’re going and what you’re getting.  Write a list.  Use that list.  Even if you aren’t a list-writer or use one at any other time of the year. This may take some time to create, your list – but consider it a wise investment – the time you spend creating the list will pay off in spades when you’re in the mall.  And remember:
lists are like maps – they can help you stay on track and avoid pitfalls.  If there is any time of year
when pitfalls abound, it’s now.  So do yourself a favour and create your map and take it with you!
Be in a resourceful state.  
      What this refers to is how you’re feeling, mentally, emotionally and physically.  Do not go  shopping when you are tired, fractious, hungry, upset, angry or frustrated.  It will only get worse  once you are in the shopping mall.  Make sure you are feeling buoyant, well-rested, energetic, well fed and watered, and calm.
Be focused.  
      Keep your map – your list – in your hand and go to only those places that you said you would.   Don’t meander into this shop or drift into that shop.  Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by spruikers selling their wares at seemingly massive discounts, or enticing window or table  displays.  Keep your focus laser sharp.
Be aware.  
      Shopping centres are deliberately designed to keep you in them for as long as possible. The way they are designed, lighted and air conditioned is all part of a deliberate strategy to have you lose your sense of time (and sometimes, direction).  Keep your awareness turned to “high” as you shop, by tuning into your surroundings and noticing them.  It’s easy to become in a slightly anaesthetised state in a large enclosed shopping mall (after all, the design of these malls has been scientifically tested, proven and duplicated for many decades) – so offset that by being aware of where you are.
Be clever (but not cheap).  
      Some of us are bargain hunters – we can sniff out a sale at 100 paces and our homes and wardrobes are stocked with many items purchased for far less than their ticketed price.  I’m all for buying well but I’d caution: just don’t buy something because it’s on sale.  That’s a trap that will have your home and wardrobe overstuffed with “cheap” where no further thought has gone into its purchase than its price tag.  If you wouldn’t buy it full price, put it back – it’s not for you.
Be deliberate.  
      Last minute shopping often leads to frenzied shopping where you buy the first thing you see without any hesitation.  Stopping and pausing before buying is a great ‘braking’ mechanism that has you interrupting an automatic thought pattern of “ooh I like this, I must purchase it” to “ooh I like this.  Let me consider what it may, or may not, add to my life”.  Never go from ‘high’ to ‘buy’ – insert a step in between so that everything you bring home is consciously chosen.
Be timely.  
      Set yourself a timeframe by which you will be finished shopping, and heading out the door.  You want to put some flex into this timeframe, because the car park and the mall may be more  congested than usual, making it harder to manoeuvre around.  But it will be possible to give yourself a broad timeframe that you can stick to.  If you say it’s 2 hours, then after that time, do a quick review of your map (your list) and see if you have done enough for today’s session, and start moving toward the exit.

Shopping at holiday times can be a stimulating pastime.  It can also lead to blow-outs in your budget and the feeling of time slipping through your fingers.   Use these strategies to shop consciously and reduce the consumption commotion this holiday period. As the New Year peaks around the corner, consider making 2011 the year that you “shop your wardrobe” instead of the malls. Find out more about my program and join it (with special input from Warwick in Month 6!) by visiting

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