Winter is coming, and with it – the sweet, sweet smell of sales. Regardless of whether your outlets of choice drop discount codes every week (ahem, Pretty Little Thing, ahem!), or only do a sale once a year (Lush, we’re looking at you right now) now is the time to save money!
Or is it?
If, like me, you want to make your purchasing meaningful this holiday season, here are a few ideas that might help you save money:
1. Only shop in stores.
I’ve written before about the time I challenged myself not to shop online, and I have to say, the lessons I learned have stuck. Not only does that encourage you to visit more local vendors (thus, keeping money into your community) but it also means you get less choice. Online, where everything is in stock, (or a close dupe is available on Wish) you are always tempted to buy more. Off-line, you are limited to what is available, which means you can really deliberate your purchases, hold them in your hands, and decide whether you need something or not.
2. Use an alarm.
With big ticket items, write down the name of the thing you want, then set up an alarm on your phone for three months from now. Write something like: “Still want me?” to remind yourself what that item was, and wait. If, after three months, you are still lusting after the item, and you want to get it, you are more or less likely to find it in the January sales at a steeper discount than pre-Christmas.
3. Boycott all sales.
Yes, all of them. Despite the fact that November is usually the time where most things are sold on discounts, it just doesn’t seem like that great of a deal when you realize most of this stuff is not that great a quality. (Remember – if it often goes on sale, that means that the sale price is the actual price of the item, aka how much it cost to produce). Many of us spend far more than we intended to because it all seems like “such a good deal!” Then, despite all the festivities, we start off the New Year poorer and less satisfied than when we were before Halloween. Just skip it altogether. Trust me, you will save money.
4. If you must shop the sales, set a budget.
This one comes to you courtesy of Ti (aka nappyheadedjojoba on YouTube. Check her out; she is awesome). Setting a budget for the sales keeps you from getting stuff just because it’s cheap, and it forces you to really think about why you want a certain item. Also, to make sure you’re keeping yourself honest, include tax and shipping in that budget. Remember the true cost is what you pay at the end, not what it shows you while you browse.
5. Prepare for your really bad day.
Don’t shop the sales as soon as they go live. Wait a bit. You know you will have one bad day when everything seems glum and you just need to make yourself feel better. They do call it retail therapy for a reason – if you hold off, chances are you can still shop the sales, not go over budget, and not beat yourself up in the end. We’re human beings – stuff happens. But knowing that marketers like to play on our emotions makes us more capable of resisting the urge to overspend.
6. Find a mantra.
For me, it’s “if you want it so badly, you will pay for shipping.” Not to belabor the point, but that’s one of the traps that some retailers draw us in – we can shop the sales, but the free shipping threshold is so high, we have to make additional purchases to make it worth our while. Except it really isn’t worth our while, because we end up with more stuff that we did not originally want or need.
7. Shop your stash.
And if you have had a clear-out already, have another one. Call your girlfriends and do a clothes swap night (wine not mandatory). You can all bring over all the stuff you don’t wear anymore, then make a party out of trying different stuff out and doing fashion shows for each other, no credit cards required. If you’re worried that you can’t donate it, or that you are creating more waste for the charity shops, this is a great way to give your old things a new lease on life, without feeling guilty. Not to mention you save money and get new-to-you items, too!
8. Make a list of presents beforehand.
Be extremely specific. Then, once you are done with that list, cross out all the items that you know, realistically, the person is likely to have, can dupe, or will get for themselves anyway. You want the presents you give to be special – not lost in a mountain of similar stuff the other person already has. Think of the thing that is in your budget, that they would never think to splurge on, and that they would never, ever, have a close dupe of in their possession already. There’s nothing quite as soul-crushing as giving someone a gift they don’t use.
9. Remember that “holiday” limited-editions are a scam.
You know how brands make eye-catching holiday stuff, yet it’s not more expensive than their regular offerings? They compromise on quality. To add insult to injury, a lot that holiday packaging is so impractical that the item you are buying is going to linger on your desk until it turns mouldy. And then, all that pretty packaging becomes another item on the landfill.
Don’t. Do. It.