Yes, I know that it’s only July, but how many of you get overwhelmed around November because you know Christmas is right around the corner? I know that I did…until, I created a plan to not only ease the “Holiday Stress,” but save money, too!
It’s never too early to start shopping for Christmas. As I have mentioned in many of my articles, I am a sale and clearance junkie. Christmas gifts are no different. I typically start planning for next Christmas, on December 26th. This year was a little different due to a move, sick little ones, our AC going out, and our minivan needed an expensive repair. Life happens.
Anyways, where was I? Ah, yes, clearance. Each and every time I go to the store, I take time to swing by all of the clearance racks, and see if there is anything that would make a great Christmas gift. If there is, I buy it, and bring it home. I have a large box that contains all of my “gifts” for birthdays, Christmas, Anniversaries, etc. I use a post-it, and write down the person it’s for, and for what occasion it’s going to be given. By doing this right away, I avoid confusion later. By shopping throughout the year, it not only saves me A LOT of money, but I actually have time to put a lot of thought into each persons gift. Typically, I am finished LONG before the holiday season. I love not having to fight the rush of people at the stores. That alone helps to avoid that “Holiday Stress,” that I mentioned above.
By starting early, you can shop more of the sales, typically getting you a better price. If there is an item that you REALLY wanted to buy for someone, and you knew it wasn’t likely that it would go on clearance, you now have much more time to watch the sales. It also gives you ample opportunity to save.
Like I said, typically I start planning for next Christmas on December 26th. Even though this year was a little different, I did start saving. Did you know that the average person collects $1-$2 a day in pocket change? You could start there. Save your pocket change. You would be surprised at how quickly that adds up. My pocket change is for my family’s “Fun Fund,” so I have a different method for Christmas saving. I have a cute little tin that I add my extra $ to. If I went shopping for new dishes, and only spent half of what I expected to, I put half of my savings into our emergency fund, and the other half goes into the Christmas fund. Out of sight, out of mind. Now when I find a gift throughout the year, I can use those funds without breaking our pocketbook. I also like to keep the gift receipt with details of who it’s to, and what it was, in the tin. This makes it easier to go down my list, and if one of those post-its slip off, I just have to grab my tin, and I know exactly who that gift was for.
There’s also the option of actually budgeting for Christmas. My grandmother taught me this one. I was always so shocked that she was never out shopping around the holidays, and she was the only adult not talking about maxing out their credit cards during the holidays. She told me that it’s not stressful if you have it in the budget from the start. She said that she would put $50 every two weeks, into an account that was just for Christmas. It was part of her budget. This helped avoid those interest rates on credit cards, and helped her to avoid some of the “High costs of the Holidays.” She was such a smart lady!
Decide on a method that suites you best, and stick to it. You’ll have your Christmas shopping done long before Christmas, and you can truly enjoy this next holiday season.Image Credit: povray.org