Shopping Smarter for the Holiday Season
The holiday season is about to start! Each family has different traditions and beliefs around the holidays. But most people do see their close friends and family during this time of year.
Part of seeing family can sometimes include getting gifts for people. Shopping during cold and flu season when you have cystic fibrosis (CF) presents unique challenges. Shopping takes a lot of energy and can be stressful. And in addition to that, you need to be more careful about catching viruses or bacteria.
Shopping during the holidays
Sometimes shopping during the holidays can be awful. If you don’t shop online, you go to stores and are surrounded by people, scents, and loud music. This can be very overwhelming.
Preparing for shopping during the holiday season can relieve a lot of stress. But nothing is fool proof. Below are tips I found on how to shop smarter during the holiday season.1
- Plan Ahead. Before you even step out of the doorway, be sure to make a list of two things. Look over your budget and write down how much you can spend this holiday season. And then prioritize a gift list. A gift list will have the person’s name and the gift you want to get them next to it. This will help you stay on task and on budget. You don't want to get too excited and take money from other parts of your budget, like from your medicine budget. As exciting as shopping is, making sure you have resources for your CF medications is more important.
- Shop online. If you shop online, you will avoid the large crowds at shopping centers. This will help protect you from the cold and flu viruses and save you time and gas for your car! Getting viruses and bacteria when you have CF can really affect your health. Everyone's health is important, but unfortunately having CF makes you more susceptible to illness.
- Focus on Cyber Monday, not Black Friday. Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving. This usually signals the start of the Christmas season. On Black Friday, a lot of stores will have their items largely discounted. But you have to go to the stores in person to get these deals. Cyber Monday is the Monday after Thanksgiving and the same stores that have large in-person sales on Black Friday, will have new deals, sales, and promotions on Monday. And on Cyber Monday you can shop from home. Waiting for Cyber Monday can lessen your stress and will keep you from being exposed to the cold and flu viruses.
- Track price changes for expensive items. You can track price changes on expensive items through websites made specifically for this purpose. This can help you stay on budget and still be able to get some big-ticket items for friends and family.
- Use coupons. You are probably familiar with television programs that show families having binders of coupons organized. But not everyone can do that. Instead, investigate online coupons. Many websites make it easy to search for and redeem coupons for shopping. Look online to see what is available.
- Avoid credit card debt. Don’t buy more than you can afford. Remember your budget and leave the credit card at home. You don’t want to go through the holiday season buying things outside of your budget and then be swamped with credit card debt you cannot pay off.
- Don’t be afraid to buy the same gift twice. It is okay to buy something more than once! You may realize that two or more people would love the same gift. And it is okay! Stress can negatively affect your immune system and if you have CF, you must work to keep your immune system strong. Remember that your loved ones want you healthy more than they want a gift!
- Consider buying experiences, not just stuff. Buying experiences can look like a weekend with family or friends. It could also look like going to a concert or fair together. When you buy someone a gift, it doesn’t always have to be an object. It can be an experience!
- Group your shopping trips. Figure out which stores you must go to and make a road map. Follow the path of the stores so you aren’t going back and forth. It will make the shopping trip go more smoothly and take up less gas. Another benefit of planning your shopping trip is minimizing your time out. If you are like me and have a mid-day treatment, you have to keep track of the time. Mapping out your trip will help you maximize your time, and will hopefully help you from missing a treatment!
- Save money by using your smart phone. Check out price checker apps. Some let you scan the barcode of items in-store and compare them to the cost online to see which is cheaper.
- Don’t shop on weekends. Weekends are the busiest and most congested time to shop during the holidays. If you are able, shop on weekdays. Fewer people will be at the stores, which will be less stressful and lessen your chances of getting the cold or flu virus.
- Shop alone. Sometimes when you shop with friends or family, you can be talked into buying things you don’t want to buy. If you shop alone, you’re more likely to stick to your list. If it is safer for you to shop with a friend, part ways at the mall, but have scheduled times to meet up in predetermined locations to make sure everyone is safe. If shopping by yourself isn't possible because of your CF symptoms, communicate with your shopping buddy that you need to stick with your list and budget.
- Know when to say, “No,” to the express line. The express line isn’t always the fastest. While people have fewer things, there are often many more people in line. Keep this in mind!
The holiday season can bring on not only more viruses, but also stress. When getting gifts for family and friends, remember that it is important to take care of yourself in such a busy time. Plan, use your resources, and remember that time together it the most priceless gift of all. Stay safe this holiday season!
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