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November 12, 2014

Remember last Wednesday when I posted an article about Panic Shopping Syndrome?  It's where you rush out for last minute Christmas presents, buy impersonal gifts and completely blow your budget.  (If you missed it click here.)

In the post I encouraged you to create a Happy List Notebook which will become indispensable this holiday season.  Today we're going to talk about how to shop for memorable gifts without bankrupting your holiday budget.

So, do you have the complete list of people (and pets) for whom you want to buy a gift?  One of the great aspects of a perennial Happy List Notebook is viewing who you bought for last year, what you gave them and the amount you spent.

Between today and next Wednesday:
1.  Find a map of your city.  Look for one in an old phone book, print out one from the internet or copy one at the library.

2.  Make a list of local thrift shops, flea markets and antique malls and mark them on the map.

TIP:  Prices are often cheaper at antique malls than antique shops.  Why?  Booth renters at antique malls can charge less because they don't have as many overhead expenses. 

3.  In your Happy List Notebook create a shopping schedule by areas of the city.  Crisscrossing all over town doesn't make sense and organized shopping will save gas money.

4.  Last week I encouraged you to dedicate a page in your Happy List Notebook for each person on your gift-giving list and to jot down their hobbies and interests.  This next week look over each person's page, write down what you gave them last year and thoughts on what you might want to give them this year.

5.  Go online and check out prices for those gift ideas and write them down in your notebook.  If you already have an idea of what things cost you won't spend all of your shopping time checking prices on your phone.  But you might want to have an eBay app on your cell for sudden 'finds' - isn't technology marvelous?!

Tip:  Write a capital 'M' in red ink beside the name of anyone on the list whose gift you have to mail.  At this point you'll need to decide if shopping online (with free shipping, of course) is more practical than finding a gift and mailing it yourself.  

If you decide to venture out this next week to start shopping don't forget your Happy List Notebook and pace yourself.  This shopping season isn't a sprint so take your time and be thorough.  Before entering a shop take a look through your notebook and refer to it often as you browse.

When you find an item that is a potential purchase, write it on the page of the person for whom it is intended, the store and location where you found it, and the price.  Trust me, this information will be invaluable.

Okay, this is where restraint kicks in.  It might not be a problem for you but impulse buying is one of my weaknesses, especially during the holidays.    Unless you find The Perfect Gift for a specific person on your list, it's priced below online prices, and it's a Big B (Big Bargain!), write it down in the notebook and keep moving.  Think about it for a couple of days.  If it truly is the right gift for the right person on your list, go back and buy it.

Note 1:  If it's for sale at an antique mall or flea market ask the salesperson if they would take less.

Note 2:  The exception to the Restraint Rule is if the item is for sale in a thrift shop.  If it's a Big B, it won't be there in a few days.  Go ahead and buy it.

Remember, plan your shopping and shop your plan!

Next Wednesday:  The Beauty of Antiques as Gifts