Things to Consider When Shopping This Holiday Season

"SALE" in yellow letters on a storefront window

Things to consider when shopping this holiday season

As self-employed entrepreneurs and small business owners, we understand the importance of this time of year. Much of our annual income comes from these last couple of months when everyone is shopping.

On the flip side of that, as individuals who pride themselves on choosing to have and own less (we’re not quite minimalists, but the idea is the similar), we also recognize that this time of year includes people maxing out their budgets and stressing trying to buy what they think they should have vs. what they actually need. Not to mention that the constant inundation of products can be exhausting.

We get it, sharing affiliate links and great sales is a necessary part of our business this time of year, but we also want to step back and share a few things that help us guide our purchasing decisions all year long, but especially during the holiday season.

Note: There is an F.A.Q. section at the bottom of this blog post that will help you navigate some of the less common terms we mention in here, plus a few resources to help you shop smarter this holiday season.

Do you really need it?

Chances are if you’re living without it now, you probably don’t need it. But, if you do think you need it, leave it and come back. Sometimes what you think you need you realize you don’t actually need after you’ve walked away from the online shopping cart for a bit. If the item serves a purpose or is replacing an item that you love but is worn and beyond repair, go for it.

Is it in the budget?

Three years ago we closed on our first home the week after Thanksgiving and were able to snag many basic home necessities at a great price over Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Since then we’ve began setting aside money throughout the year knowing that many of our favorite brands and services offer deep discounts sometime during November and December. Rather than feeling pressured to purchase when we see lots of eye catching things online during this season, we’re instead searching specifically for products and services we know we need and have worked into the budget. November and December are expensive month for us, but we plan for it ever year and don’t stretch ourselves too thin. Our biggest piece of advice: don’t buy anything that will put you under financial stress!

Is it really a good deal or are they just saying it’s a good deal?

When we began budgeting and planning for these annual sales, we also began to research whether or not our favorite companies have better sales other times of the year. Some companies put on very similar sales throughout the year but will still hype it up as a great deal to get people to buy in a hurry. On the other hand, sometimes the holiday season really is a company’s best sale. As you begin budgeting and planning for your holiday season purchases, begin monitoring pricing and keep an eye on the items you know you’ll need in a few months. For us, this year looked like monitoring prices of certain overloading gear at expos and online throughout the year so when we saw brands releases sales this week we knew whether or not it was actually a good deal.

Shop quality over quantity

Consider choosing fewer products of greater quality vs. more items at a lesser cost. This a really hard process to begin but I promise it gets easier! Sticker shock is a real thing, but making intentional choices about the quality of the product you purchase will have a longterm effect on your budget as well as on brands who promote ideas of fast fashion or other trends.

What sort of impact does your purchase have on those who made it?

This is by far the hardest idea to work into your everyday life but I can’t express enough how important it is. Working conditions are far from perfect for many around the world and certain brands knowingly exploit people working below for below living wage pay and/or in extremely dangerous and uncomfortable working conditions. Choosing brands that provide brand transparency and works towards ethical and sustainable practices is incredibly important. I’m not going to pretend that every brand we own is ethically made and sustainably sourced, but it’s an ongoing conversation and process that we continue to learn more about through trial and error. All you can do is the best you can when it comes to choosing which products you purchase, but when you shop quality over quantity, you’re more likely to be able to afford purchasing from brands with more ethical and sustainable practices. Again I repeat, it’s a habit that will take time to learn and practice through education and research.

Final thoughts

A life living with less doesn’t mean a life guided by a scarcity mindset, but rather guided the idea that less “stuff” means less noise and less stress. Shopping this holiday season can be overwhelming and exhausting, but with a few simple considerations and planning, it doesn’t have to be. Remember that you have the power to make informed decisions about your purchases and support companies that align with your values. Happy shopping!


What does it mean if a brand is ethically sourced?

When a brand is ethically sourced, it means that the products are created in a manner that values and respects the workers and the environment. This involves fair wages and safe working conditions for workers, sustainable and environmentally friendly practices in the production process, and often includes transparency about the product's supply chain. Ethically sourced brands prioritize the welfare of people and the planet alongside profit, providing consumers with a responsible choice for their purchasing needs.

What does it mean if a brand is sustainably sourced?

When a brand is sustainably sourced, it means that their products are produced in a way that limits harm to the environment. The brand takes into account the entire lifecycle of the product, from the sourcing of raw materials, manufacturing, distribution, use, and even disposal. They strive to minimize their carbon footprint, conserve resources, and protect ecosystems while producing their products. In essence, sustainable brands aim to meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

When is Black Friday?

Black Friday is traditionally the day after the American holiday of Thanksgiving, which is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. This means Black Friday can fall on any date between November 23rd and 29th. It's historically known as the kick-off to the holiday shopping season, with many retailers offering significant discounts on a wide array of products.

When is Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday is observed on the Monday following Thanksgiving weekend. As an extension of Black Friday, it offers another day of deep discounts, particularly for electronics and online products. Originating in the United States, Cyber Monday has now gained popularity worldwide as an online shopping holiday, making it the perfect day to snag great deals right from the comfort of your home.

What are affiliate links?

Affiliate links are special URLs used by bloggers, influencers, and other online entities to earn a commission on any products sold through that link. When you click an affiliate link and make a purchase, the affiliate (in this case, the blog you're reading) earns a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. It's a way for online content creators to monetize their work while also bringing you the best deals and recommendations. We always disclose our affiliate links in the sidebar of every blog post because we believe in transparency and we want you to trust that we're recommending products we truly believe in.


Budget planning resources

Here are five popular and reputable budget planning resources that can help you make the most of your money this holiday season:

  1. Mint: Mint is a free budget planner and tracker that helps you understand your spending and save more money. It also provides bill reminders, low balance alerts, and other helpful budgeting tools.
  2. You Need a Budget (YNAB): YNAB provides an effective and unique approach to budgeting which is based on "giving every dollar a job". It’s a great tool for keeping track of your income and expenses, and you can try it for free for 34 days.
  3. PocketGuard: PocketGuard is a straightforward budgeting app that links to your bank accounts and tracks where your money goes. It gives you an idea of how much you can afford to spend on any given day.
  4. GoodBudget: GoodBudget is a digital version of the old-fashioned envelope system, a method of budgeting where you put cash in envelopes for different spending categories, and when an envelope is empty, your budget for that category is all spent for the month.

Resources for tracking prices throughout the year

  1. CamelCamelCamel: This is an excellent tool that tracks prices for Amazon products. It provides historical price charts and alerts you when prices drop. It's a great way to ensure you're getting the best deal on your Amazon purchases.
  2. Honey: A browser extension that not only finds and applies coupon codes at checkout, but also tracks price drops and alerts you when it finds a better deal. It works on thousands of online stores, not just Amazon.
  3. PriceSpy: PriceSpy compares prices from thousands of shops to ensure you get the best deal. It gives you the ability to create lists of products, set price alerts and even see the price history of a product.

Resources for finding ethical brands

  1. DoneGood: DoneGood is an online marketplace promoting brands that are ethical, sustainable, and socially conscious. It offers a wide range of products from verified ethical brands, making it a great place to start your ethical shopping journey.
  2. Ethical Consumer: Ethical Consumer offers in-depth guides and ratings for a wide array of companies across different product categories. Their research covers everything from human rights, politics, environment to animal welfare, allowing you to make well-informed decisions.
  3. Good On You: Good On You is a fashion-focused app that rates brands on their ethical and sustainable practices. It's a valuable tool if you're specifically looking to upgrade your wardrobe conscientiously.
  4. Fair Trade Certified: Fair Trade Certified provides a searchable list of brands that have earned their certification. This means they adhere to rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards.
  5. B Corporation Directory: B Corporation offers a directory of certified companies that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. B Corp businesses aim to balance profit and purpose, ensuring they benefit employees, communities, and the environment.

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Hi! We're Chris and Sara a husband and wife video making, storytelling, travel loving duo with a passion for sharing travel tips, tricks, and inspiration with others.
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