That’s right, I know it is only October, but Christmas and the holiday season are just around the corner. I know we all groan when department stores and big box stores completely skip Thanksgiving in their rush to get their Christmas products on the shelf. I personally loathe when stores forget about the other holidays! However, while they might seem to be jumping the gun, they might have the right idea. If you have a lot of shopping to do, it is a good idea to start your holiday planning now so that you won’t be stuck with those post-holiday bills.
Start Saving Early Like A BOSS
The holiday season creeps up on you, and before you know it you only have a few weeks to buy gifts for all your friends and family. If you have a small family, this might not be a big deal, but most of us have spouses, parents, children, in-laws and other relatives who we like to get presents for during the holidays. The best way to avoid credit card bills after the holidays is to start saving early.
This means that you should start setting aside a little money each week (or pay period) starting in September or October. For example, when October begins, you can start setting aside a portion of your paycheck each time you get paid. You can put this extra money into your savings account or into a special account for holiday purchases. You can also buy a gift card each pay period that you can then use for holiday purchases. In the YFS household we start birthday/holiday savings on January 1st. We do this so we don’t have to dump tons of money into the holiday fund in October. If you didn’t start saving January 1st of this year don’t fret!
You can always start next January. But if you start in October or November, this might mean that you have to cut back on extra expenses during the months preceding Christmas, but a few less dinners out will help you save money after the holidays. When December arrives, you will have a small surplus of money (or gift cards) that you can use to purchase gifts. I highly recommend you only use the money you saved for holiday shopping. The joy of seeing your family rip open presents is fine and dandy but not if you have to pay for it later.
I DO NOT RECOMMEND FINANCING CHRISTMAS!
Only use your credit card if you can pay it off in full when the balance is due.
Shop Early and Take Advantage of Sales Like A BOSS
All of you probably know someone who does all their Christmas shopping by May, and while this is a bit extreme, it is the right idea. If you have a place to store (hide) your gifts, you might want to start buying them in October and November (or earlier). This way you can take advantage of fall sales, and you will often find lower prices if you shop before the holiday season begins. If your purchases are spread out over two or three months, you will be able to pay as you go, which will help you avoid one large bill.
Some people do all their shopping during the pre-holiday sales, and Black Friday is one of the biggest. While you can find great deals during these huge Black Friday sales, the huge crush of people, the limited amount of supplies, and the early morning wakeup call do not appeal to most people. Still, this is where some people do all of their holiday shopping. You can also find a number of good deals online during Black Friday or Cyber Monday. By taking care of some purchases early and others during the sale periods, you will be able to purchase everything before the last minute crunch.
One of the worst feelings is finding the perfect gift online and realizing that is backordered for the next three weeks, and you won’t be able to get it until after the New Year. By shopping a little early, you save money (no expensive expedited shipping), and you make sure that you will have your gifts in time. So if you have a lot of holiday shopping, you should start saving some money now. You should also keep an eye out for those perfect gifts. If you follow these two steps, you will be able to purchase all of your gifts without going into seasonal debt. It’s always best to start the New Year with the least amount of debt possible.
Remember, I don’t usually buy gifts but, when I do, I don’t go into debt over it. Shop smartly my friends…