Keep Calm and Carry Water: Great Tips for Coping with the Boxing Day Sales

Hauling yourself out of bed at some ungodly hour after the festivities of Christmas just to buy even more consumer goods is not everyone’s idea of shopping savvy. But despite the hype around Boxing Day sales, they can be worth  the effort, especially if there are things you need and youve planned ahead. If you decide to join the craziness, the tips below will keep you focused and ensure you don't come home with ten bottles of Old Spice aftershave past their used-by-date, a whopping headache and nothing else. 

* Prepare in advance a list of items you’ll be searching for on Boxing Day. Stake out stores that you think will discount those items on Boxing Day and use this information to help you decide which shops to go to. You don't have to buy everything on the list: it's just a guide to give some structure to your shopping.

* Map your planned journey for maximum efficiency. Be realistic about how much energy you’ll have after Christmas. At the same time be prepared to deviate from your plan if your energy takes you somewhere unexpected.

* Dress for shopping success! Choose sensible clothes and comfortable shoes and get them ready the night before. 

* Take advantage of one-day discounts. If you’re running out of everyday items like moisturiser or shampoo, hold off on buying them until Boxing Day and take advantage of one-day discounts that some stores offer on every item in the store.

* Keep your spending under control. Set a limit on the amount you will allow yourself to spend on the day. Do this mindfully and ensure the amount is realistic and affordable.

Get your supplies ready in advance! Bring plastic or canvas bags. To stay hydrated, bring or buy a bottle of water and drink it while you’re queuing. Bring a healthy snack like nuts or raisins. (Alternatively, plan a relaxing meal or drink break.) If you're shopping alone, bring something to read while you're queuing up at the check-out.

* Before you go, take note of advertisements for Boxing Day sales. If you’re planning to buy a furniture item or appliance, eg a new dining setting or home theatre system, do your research thoroughly beforehand so you can rush in and rush out again with your Boxing Day bargain. If you’ve identified the exact item you want to buy but you’re not sure if it will be on sale on Boxing Day, use a smartphone to check prices, or ring around the stores on the day. This is the kind of situation where a smartphone really comes in handy – instead of the phone ‘telling’ you what to buy, you’re using it to obtain what you’ve already decided you want.

* When you hit your favourite store, take a deep breath. Use the experience as an exercise in following your energy rather than a do-or-die attempt to get everything you need. Picture a white light shining in your abdomen, and let the light guide you to where you need to go.

* If you have a smartphone, remember you're in control. Retailers will be trying to lure you into their stores with special offers. Use your intuition to decide which ones, if any, you respond to.

* Don't assume you have to buy something just because it's ridiculously cheap. Be really careful about taking advantage of those megabargains stores use to lure the early birds in. Just say you want to buy a new microwave oven and the store is selling them for $40. Have you done some research? Is this the microwave oven you really want? Will it do all the things you want it to do, and do you truly believe it's the right model for you? If not, you may be wasting your money.

* Don't be taken in by the shopping 'shoulds'. Your rational mind is very important in making the decision whether or not to buy, but it can't do the job on its own. Just say you've decided to buy one of those nifty mini-chainsaws because you want to start keeping the trees in your garden neatly pruned. You find a great model that's 35 per cent off, and you can't see any reason not to buy it. You have a niggling feeling that you shouldn't buy the chainsaw, but you ignore it, and bring one home from the sales. Two months later you get a job offer in another state and move into an apartment without a garden. If you can learn to listen to your gut feeling, you can work out when you're buying something just because of the shopping 'shoulds' - and perhaps decide not to buy at all.

* Don't give in to panic. You will probably feel a strong fear of missing out just because so many other shoppers will be desperate to get their hands on anything that looks cheap. Let yourself experience these feelings but try not to act on them, as this will actually reduce your chances of getting what you want and need. The world won't end if you don't buy a handbag at 50 per cent off. I know it feels like it will, but that's just because your mirror neurons are on overdrive and your dopamine levels are soaring. You can make a decision based on what you really need, you just have to listen. Act as if you know you’ll get what you need and you’ll be more likely to. 

* Think of finding a genuine bargain as a bonus, not a right or a necessity. Remind yourself that many people don’t even bother with Boxing Day sales, waiting till a few days after Christmas before they check out the bargains. The point is not to grab every single item you might possibly need, or to compete with other shoppers, but to pick up a few really useful items if they come your way.

* Don’t follow the crowd – they’re not always right. Just because a store is packed with frenzied shoppers doesn’t mean the best bargains reside within its walls. Go where your energy guides you – you may find yourself in a nearly deserted store where the very item you need is waiting for you. On one Boxing Day outing I found myself in one of the larger clothing chains in the centre of a mob of frenzied shoppers who had poured in as soon as the doors opened. A quick look around confirmed there was nothing I wanted, and I left with hardly a twinge of regret. A bit earlier I'd found myself in a near-empty boutique, and homed in on a $20 pair of black capri pants that I was still wearing last summer.

* Be prepared to queue at the checkouts. Use the time you spend queuing to practise patience and mindfulness, and, as I said earlier, bring something to read. One Boxing Day I found a fantastic pair of good quality sunglasses at 40 per cent off. I had to wait about 25 minutes to get served and almost gave up, thinking of all the bargains I was missing out on. I got more than enough wear from those sunglasses to justify the wait.

* Practice 'letting go' even if you're in a hurry. If there's something you think you want, put it back on the shelf and start to walk away, and check out how your gut feeling responds. Really try to give up the item while you're doing this. If it's a large item, simply walk away. Now monitor how you're feeling. Do you forget the item right away or does your gut tell you to go back? Trust your intuition to let you know if you really need the item.

Until next time!
 If you enjoyed this blog entry, you might also like A Free 'Shopping App' to Guide You Through the Christmas Maze.

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