Click! That's one more item in the cart. It can be all too easy to get carried away when shopping online and keep adding 'bargains' into that digital basket. And with Black Friday just around the corner, I bet your clicking finger is itching to bag some bargains. Mine too. But before we both get caught up in the Black Friday shopping fever, it's time to take a step back and remind ourselves what the holiday season is all about.
What's so wrong with a little retail therapy?
Yes, Black Friday is an excellent opportunity to get the gifts and things we've been eying up all season cheaper. But is that offer really worth it? Often, we are too entranced by those dollar signs and forget its value. And more importantly, if we really actually it.
This year especially, as we find ourselves in lockdowns and under restrictions from COVID, it can be all too easy to head online and add items to the basket. Part of us is genuinely looking for that perfect gift, a symbol of how much we care for others. But behind this motivation is something else, too – a little thing called retail therapy.
Admit it! It feels good to shop. Spending time online distracts us from all that's going on in the world, even for a little bit. That click and basket drop feels even better. And when that package arrives through your front door – heaven!
But this feel-good effect only lasts a little while. Its implications on your pocket can last much longer.
That's why, this holiday season, 'tis the season not to shop. Instead, it's time for family, friends, and mindfulness. So, I invite you to take a breath and get to grips with our 7 tips for mindful shopping this holiday season.
7 Tips for Mindfulness Shopping on Black Friday and Beyond
Plan ahead and budget
The world is your oyster. Or at least that's how those online shops can make it appear. Your wallet tells a different story. So, before you even think of jumping online, take a quick glance at your bank account.
Now that you know the number set a budget for how much you can afford to spend. Be realistic. Push all those wants and desires out and focus on the numbers. Done that? Good. You've just completed one crucial holiday shopping step.
Think of others
"Oh, great! Another pair of socks, just what I always wanted." Can you hear the sarcasm I hear in your recipient's voice? When it comes to holiday shopping, repeat after me, "Jessica (or Carol, or John) does not need 101 pairs of socks." Yes, I know they're funny. Yes, they're so cute. And yes, cheap too. But they do not need another pair. Note. You can replace the word 'socks' in this tip with any all-too-often-given gift.
Instead, think about what your friend or family member really does need. Maybe it's a new hammer to fix that uneven picture, a favorite chocolate bar, a cell phone top-up, or even something that only costs your time? This holiday season, consider whether they need someone to watch the kids for an hour or have a cup of tea with. Give that instead. And don't forget to be creative – it's the thought that counts.
P.S Only joking about the socks. They're my favorite gift. Ever.
Wow! 50% OFF! Bargain, right? Well, not always. Just because something is 50% off in one shop doesn't mean it's the cheapest on the market. Now's the time to take a deep breath before you go to the checkout and, instead, check around.
Don't be too quick to buy. Take your time and review other sites and discounts before you grab the final offer. But, if you really believe this is the best bargain, at least make sure they have an acceptable return policy if it turns out not to be the case. Many reputable retailers offer extended returns in the holiday season (with some exceptions), so stop, breathe, and shop smart.
Is it a want or need?
I just love that dress! And those shoes. Oh! And that phone cover is a must this season! But before you head online to search for discounts on all the latest apparel for you or a loved one. Stop and think – is it a want or a need?
When feeling the need to shop, this is one of the mindfulness techniques I use to keep myself grounded. First, go to the wardrobe and look inside. You can also visit the cupboard, larder or any other room. What do you see? Chances are it's filled with stuff—time to take stock.
Chances are, there are some hidden gems in there that you have worn in years. If you've done that and you decide that you need this new item. That it will add value to your life. Then get it. If not, if it's really just a phase. Then, why not keep your shopping fingers busy doing something else? Maybe our planking challenge, for example?
Be sustainable where possible
The holiday season is a time for giving and receiving. But we should always be aware of the bigger impact of our buying. In the last two decades, we have begun to consume 400% more clothes than before, and that's just the beginning. According to the National Environment Educational Foundation (NEEF), Christmas Day waste totals:
- $11 billion of packing material for gifts
- 15 million Christmas trees
- 38,000 miles of ribbon
That is A LOT!
While it is essential to make this special season magical, there is a smart way to go about it. First, remember the advice from the previous tip about checking your wardrobe before you buy? The same applies here. Now, you have two choices. Close that online shopping window, or give some stuff away and replace it with something new. Because let's face it – how many pairs of shoes do you really need?
Two. Reduce, reuse, recycle. When purchasing wrapping paper this year, or trees, or anything. Take a moment and be mindful. Do you really need it? Or do you have some materials from last year that you can re-use? Or why not plan ahead and choose wrapping that can be recycled?
Three. Shop local. In recent years, large mega-shops have overtaken smaller retailers, and while choice is a fantastic thing. It's also good to shop local. And this is especially true after COVID-19 lockdowns have impacted smaller sellers. So, today, choose ethical buying. Support local businesses, cafes, and more. Buy a gift certificate, buy an experience. And go local.
Don't rush into it!
Ok, I know it's not a wedding and your bank account probably will recover after your spending spree. But why put yourself under all that stress?! There's still a lot of shopping days till Christmas, and you really do have time to make those purchases, no matter what that sales clock says. So, right now, step back from the screen, close that tab, and take a walk.
Give yourself a few moments to collect your thoughts. Do you need all those items in your basket? Will you or your loved ones value them? Or is it a one-day novelty? Take the time to choose pieces you will love long-term, and not just throw them in the trash next week. To help you soothe your mind, why not try a mindful meditation and feel your inner clarity.
Use a long-term mindset
It's been a tough year, and we could all use a little good news and happiness in our lives. But that doesn't come from a shopping cart. Black Friday is just one day, Christmas is only one day, and putting yourself into a financially difficult situation just to celebrate isn't a good idea.
Instead, make this holiday season about valuing the gifts we have: our family, friends, and health. Focus on the long-term, when we all come out of this pandemic stronger. If you want to and are in a position to give a gift, give smart. Think of value, not cost, and be mindful of your resources and your loved ones'.
Now you know the secrets to a more mindful shopping experience, to wrap it up, let me leave you with one piece of wisdom for 2020 – this year, it's all about who is around the dinner table (digitally or otherwise), not the number of presents under the tree.