The deals are flying right now both online and in the stores, so this is a great time to remind you to avoid what I’m calling “shopping frenzy”. Don’t buy things just to buy them. Don’t buy things because others are buying them. Don’t buy things just to get a limited-supply “freebie” that you don’t even really want. Remember that the reason stores are opening earlier than ever, and the deals sound so hot is that retailers are trying to create a “shopping frenzy”. Don’t fall for it – be smart and stick to your budget!

My mom and I talked about the shopping she did on a previous “Black Friday” and she told me:

I returned every single thing I purchased on that day, because I realized that they were all impulse purchases. I saw everyone else buying these great deals and felt I should too.– Mom

But she didn’t need to buy these “deals”, and recognized she should return what she bought. But my mom is someone who plans ahead and I’m guessing she already had most of her gifts ready for the holidays (she’s an expert bargain-hunter and avid garage-saler). So for her shopping on that day of amazing deals was more for the fun of the experience and without a well-defined plan.

Here are my four tips to help you shop wisely this holiday season:

Tip #1: Have a Plan, Stick to the Plan
Make a list of gifts you want to get including a budget for each gift. When you get closer to making your shopping trip, then make a list of which stores you’ll go to and what you’ll look for at each store. Your plan should align with your budget. Overspending isn’t any fun.

Tip #2: Don’t Shop Under Stress
That means don’t be tired, hungry, or stressed out while you shop. Because that could contribute to impulse buying that you may later regret. Crowded stores and waiting in long lines is about the most stressful situation I could imagine, so I avoid them.

Tip #3: Don’t Hesitate to Return
Keep all of your receipts. If you go shopping, and the next day realize you got two presents for someone who you only needed one for, then by all means return it! Doesn’t matter how good of a deal you got, if it isn’t an item you’ll use or that you have a specific recipient for then I say return it if you can. Some people keep a gift closet to stock with gifts for the upcoming year and that’s a great strategy. Just make sure that the gifts you’re stocking it with are good candidates for being given as gifts within the next year.

Tip #4: Spend Your Time How You Want To
Only you know what you want to do with your time, so spend it on what you want whether that be enjoying family, decorating your house, working on a home improvement project, or shopping. Just be sure you’re doing what you want to do and not following what everyone else is doing. Avoid the crowd mentality because it can be damaging to your budget. (image credit: Ben Rushton)

Please share your tips, what do you do to avoid “shopping frenzy”?