How To Prevent Overspending This Holiday Shopping Season

holiday shopping, holiday spending, shopping season

My son came down the stairs, phone in hand, and showed me a gaming headset he had found on the internet. He stated that the headset was exactly what he was looking for, and since it was Cyber Monday he wanted to purchase them at the discounted price. I looked at the ad for a moment, puzzled, then broke the news to my son that the headset was not on sale.

My son just assumed that because it was Cyber Monday everything was on sale.


This was a wake up call to me that this is the time of year that consumers need to be extremely mindful of their spending:

Shopping Mania

This time of year we virtually assaulted by retailers through television, print, and online ads. People are looking to buy gifts, and retailers are more than happy to sell us anything and everything. Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and New Year’s sales we’re in a nonstop two month sale cycle that has built a reputation as THE time to buy holiday gifts for others, but also gifts for YOURSELF.

Everything Is Not On Sale

Signs advertising sales will be posted everywhere we look from now through the beginning of the year. People might get the impression that now is a great time to buy because every thing is on sale, which is not tue.

All Sales Are Not Good Sales

Just because a sticker that says the word, “Sale” on it is slapped on an item doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. Many retailers jack up the price of products leading up to the holiday season so they can drastically cut them and advertise they are on sale.

So what can a consumer do? The short answer is, do what you always do to make sure you get the most out of every dollar by asking yourself a few simple questions:

  1. Does this item provide value for the price?
  2. Was I planning to buy this item anyway?
  3. Does the item fit within my budget?

If the answer to any of these questions is, “No,” then back on the shelf it goes.

My son fell into that shopping mania, and thought this would be a great time to buy himself a new headset, even though he already has a perfectly good one he bought less than six months ago.  Had he went through with the purchase, he would have bought an expensive headset at full price simply because he was told this is the time of year to buy. Had he asked himself the three questions above, the answer to the first two questions would have been, “No,” clearly showing that the headset would have been a bad purchase.

Armed with these questions, we can all be a little more ready to navigate the holiday shopping season.

How about you, Clever Friends? Have you ever been swept up in the holiday shopping mania and regretted a purchase?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock


Disease Called Debt

About the author

Brock Kernin


  • And that’s why we have the big sales, folks!
    So many people are like your son (but don’t have your good advice, unless they read your blog!). Vendors expect that people will purchase items that aren’t on sale once they start shopping, and often they’re right. Sometimes that’s okay, if it’s a purchase you need anyway and are prepared to pay the price. Not everything WILL go on sale. But if you’re going to make those purchases, be aware!

  • @Emily – sometimes shopping this time of year you can almost see thecrazed look in people eyes. They are just there to buy anything they can get their hands on that might have a “sale” sticker on it. Retailers love it….but man, people just lose their minds!

  • @MoneyBeagle – that’s a true story….reminds me of discount stores that advertise jewelry for 75% off at Christmas time. There’s no way they would offer something at that kind of discount unless they jacked up the price first!

  • @Penny – Black Friday is huge for creating that sense of false urgency….people are all running around grabbing items and people get the feeling that if they don’t grab this thing and buy it they’ll never see that kind of sale again.

  • I definitely wind up picking up little things that throw off my budget – like a cute lip balm that I think I’ll tie into a ribbon for my little cousins gifts and next thing I know, I’m $15 over budget and not sure why.

  • When I worked on Target on Black Friday a few years ago I had an angry customer think every thing was on sale since it was Black Friday. I think if you look hard enough, you can find good deals all throughout the year.

  • I’m pretty careful with my shopping, but a family member got caught up in the “deals and steals” on the Today show on Black Friday and ended up buying a “heavily discounted” watch with a no return policy. Right after she clicked purchase, she started to have doubts and indeed when looking at comparable watches found that it was a pretty average price. Now that she’s received the item, it isn’t even what she expected. Lesson learned the hard way.

  • @Tre – I can resist a good sale for something I wasn’t planning on buying anyway. But I wish I could convince my family to “move Christmas” a month later just to avoid the usual crowds and push to impulse buy.

  • @Mel – We’ve all been there! Obviously it’s better to not have it happen, but if it does, we just have to sit down and recalibrate the budget….and get back on track!

  • @Gary – never take the retailer’s word for how “big” a sale is…..just because they say it’s a deep discount doesn’t mean it is! Thanks for sharing!

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