Now that the holidays have come, expect the Christmas shopping rush to be fiercer than ever. If you want to join in, arm yourself with these tried-and-tested secrets to making the most out of every shopping spree.
Budget, budget, budget.
As much as Filipinos love shopping, they also know the importance of a good budget. Even if you anticipate a "bonus" come Christmas season, it helps to estimate how much you can afford to spend vis-à-vis how much you earn and how many people you're going to gift for the holidays.
Set aside a "Christmas fund" early on. Buy gifts in bulk, if possible. Bring only as much cash as you have in your fund, and stick to it. Keep an eye out for sales (like the ones we usually post about here), so you can further maximize your budget.
Leave the credit cards behind.
Credit cards may be "magic plastics," but they can also magically drill a hole in your wallet if you're not careful. It's better to leave them behind if you're buying on a retail/individual basis. However, if you're making big purchases like appliances, it's more convenient to buy now and pay later.
Be a Boy/Girl Scout.
Shopping sprees in the Philippines can take a while. If you're in a large mall like Mall of Asia and SM Fairview, you'll need to spend at least half a day on "product research" alone!
So be prepared. Wear clothes that are comfortable enough to be in, even when they're soaked with sweat. Use footwear that's practical enough for long walks. Bring a bottle of water. Bring lots of pocket tissues (for wiping yourself in the bathroom) and handkerchiefs (for wiping yourself in public). Carry your own shopping bags, especially in Makati where there's an existing "plastic ban." Know where the nearest restaurants are, so you can rush to them when you're hungry.
Be an early bird.
Most malls in the Philippines open at 10 in the morning. If you can make it by that time, that'd be better, because the crowds tend to peak in the afternoon and late evening. The earlier you are at the mall, the more time you can take browsing stores for the best discounts and goods.
Find cheaper alternatives.
The best goods aren't always in the malls. Places like Divisoria are great sources of Christmas gifts at wallet-friendly prices. Keep in mind, however, that Divisoria attracts all sorts of characters, and that there are a few things you need to remember before shopping there.
Shop from the comforts of your home.
Good stores aren't always the brick-and-mortar sort. In the Philippines, you can grab great goods at great prices from websites like Lazada, OLX, and Metrodeal.
As with most online transactions, however, it's important to verify whether the person on the other side of the computer is a legitimate seller. Make sure you have a physical address and contact info, check whether the seller has a good reputation with other buyers, and read the Terms and Conditions carefully.
Shop after Christmas.
Missed out on all the pre-Christmas sales? Don't fret. Sales events are still ongoing even after December 25. In fact, post-Christmas sales are better, because sellers want to get rid of unsold inventory ASAP and will price them as low as possible. Sure, you'll be a little late giving out Christmas presents, but at least your bank account will be nice and healthy come the New Year, right?
Shop all year long.
Luckily, sales aren't limited to the Christmas season. Most vendors offer discounts and promos all year round, so stay on the lookout for them. Also, if you're planning to buy non-perishable Christmas gifts, buy them at a time of the year when their prices are at their lowest.
Track your expenses.
It's hard to draw up a budget unless you know how much you're actually spending. Make sure to keep your receipts after every purchase, and use a spreadsheet to jot down your expenses, analyze which products make up the bulk of your costs, and figure out how you can cut back on spending.
Get creative with your gifts.
The most meaningful gifts aren't always the most expensive. With a little creativity and resourcefulness, you can make beautiful, handcrafted gifts from various materials around your home. Not only are these presents easier on the wallet, but they're also more likely to be appreciated by the recipient, since you poured your heart and energy into making them.
Any more tips on how to shop during Christmas in the Philippines? We'd love to hear about them in the comments!