Five Tips on Shopping Smarter This Holiday Season

GW School of Business Professor Vanessa Perry says people can save money this holiday season by planning ahead and shopping with a reliable friend.

GW Marketing Professor Vanessa Perry. (File photo)
November 23, 2016

By Kristen Mitchell

When storefronts are lit up with dazzling displays of the latest toys and gadgets for the holiday season, it can be hard to keep a tight grip on your money. Most people make budgets, but that doesn’t mean they stick to them.

George Washington University School of Business Professor Vanessa Perry spoke with GW Today about shopping tips to help members of the GW community enjoy the holiday season without breaking the bank.

Tip #1: Look out for false deals
Consumers should remember that Black Friday marks the beginning of the holiday season for retailers, and they use the information that they glean from these sales as an indication of consumers' purchase intentions later. But this is only the beginning. Consumers that are looking for bargains may save more if they wait.

Tip #2: Monitor shipping costs
Watch out for the shipping fees—sometimes these make a big difference.

Tip #3: Make a realistic and thorough spending plan
Budgets and diets are hard to stick to for the same reasons—people often forget to plan for small items that add up little by little. For example, people are good about establishing a budget for gift purchases, but forget about how much extra they spend entertaining others, eating out and attending holiday events.

Tip #4: Don’t wait until the last minute to buy gifts
This is not based on research but on my own personal experience—I save a lot more by shopping for gifts year-round when I catch great deals. However, this is more time-consuming and could possibly result in buying more than necessary.

Tip #5: Have an accountability buddy
People who are trying to stick to a budget by avoiding unplanned purchases should set some ground rules for themselves and try to stick to them. One way to do this is to ask a friend or family member to be your “shopping buddy”—someone who will let you know if you begin to stray away from your stated goals.

Research shows that people are more likely to be consistent when they have made a commitment to an influential person in their lives. However, this body of research is also replete with reasons why we don't always stick to our plans.


2016 GW Gift Guide

November 22, 2016
Businesses run by GW alumni offer a variety of unique offerings, from bow ties to whimsical gift boxes, DIY gin and hand-crafted wood furniture.