Tips to stay focused on the true holiday spirit
Black Friday conjures all kinds of images: stampedes to cheap television sets, people pushing others out of the way to grab crazy deals and fistfights breaking out over the last item of a certain type. The beginning of the holidays seems to pass by the true meaning of what people celebrate during Thanksgiving and Christmas. People should be thankful and giving. Instead, rampant consumerism and “gotta-have-it-ism” have overtaken traditional values. Instead, we could all benefit from being more mindful of the true spirit of the season – focusing on love, peace and compassion.
Remember the Golden Rule
When you consider dashing for that TV, consider the feelings of the other person reaching for it. Is it really that crucial to your happiness to have a new TV that may not even be noticeably better than the one you have? That other person might not even have a TV in the first place. Be sure to remember how you would want to be treated and do so for others.
Be reasonable with your spending
There’s a great saying that many economics teachers use to reinforce the concept of controlling one’s spending. Assume, for example, that a $2,000 TV is on sale for $1,000. While you might say, “I saved $1,000!” the economist will say, “No, you spent $1,000.” It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of the day. The “high of the buy” is a powerful incentive as people almost try to outdo each other in the quality of the deals they make. There are ways you can still have a good experience, get the best deals and not put yourself in the poor house.
The best method is to use cash only. Leave all of your cards at home. You should pick an amount you can afford to spend and stick to it. If all you can afford is $300, and the super-fantastic TV you found is $400, you simply have to wait until next year.
Take steps for safe shopping
There are simple things you can do to protect yourself from threats such as thievery. Wear an over-the-shoulder bag, for example. Alternatively, you can carry your cash in a sealed pouch around your neck under your shirt or blouse.
Also, never get into a fight over an item in a store. That gadget is never worth a trip to the hospital or worse. Go in a group to ensure safe shopping. When you take a holiday shopping break, sit with your group and people-watch. Stay away from confrontation in the parking lot too. If you do go with a group, pile into one person’s vehicle or even rent a van for a large group. Finding one parking spot is a lot easier than finding five or 10.
If you choose to spend Black Friday online, beware of deals that seem too good to be true. Be sure only to deal with established companies, and remember to take steps to protect and encrypt your financial information before making any purchases. It’s not hard to be safe, as long as you remember to be sensible.
Be mindful of others all the time
Help someone carrying heavy packages. Offer to walk someone to his or her car if the person doesn’t feel safe. Laugh with people. Have a bite to eat and relax. If you have some cash left over and someone is a little short for their “must have item,” offer to pay the small difference. You’d be surprised at how good it feels to make someone else’s day and see that person’s wide smile. It’s definitely better than getting a good deal!
Be mindful of your own holiday stress levels
Rather than spending the entire day in the stores, plan to do something else that isn’t stressful. Throw a “come as you are” barbecue party. Make it a potluck and sit around watching football and eating leftovers. The best deal of the season is that the love of family and friends is free.
For a twist, add a white elephant gift exchange to your get-together. Set a modest limit, perhaps $10, and have fun exchanging the most outlandish, gauche gifts you can. It’s guaranteed to get great laughs! If you concentrate on the most important things in your life, the rest of it will fall into place.
Plan for the aftermath
Sometimes, the best deals of all can be had the day after Black Friday. There will always be things that don’t sell. Check these out on the day after because the mad rush is much more subdued on Saturday. You can even combine your holiday shopping trip with the return trip to take something back that simply wasn’t right. All of these other strategies about mindfulness still apply, but the stress of the day isn’t at as high a level as it is on Black Friday itself.
As you approach Black Friday, use these tips to be more mindful of the people around you and your own inner-qualities. Don’t let holiday stress get you down. Let me know how these and other techniques work for you in the comments.