For us Christmas is usually ‘just another day’. We’re not children anymore and in the past years we lost all the pleasure to offer gifts and decorate. Since in most cases the holidays bring in a lot of reckless spending and endanger any saving efforts, we’d rather focus on keeping our money for something that means more to us. Sure thing, once our daughter will be born, we’ll have to get back to the Christmas tree, presents and decorations, since we loved these, when we were little and wouldn’t want our kid to not know such joys.
For the ‘regular’ people though, such days are very important and everybody wants to make their holidays as special as possible. And this sometimes mean breaking the ‘bank’ and starting the new year with quite some financial headaches. So, if you are the type of family who celebrates all these days and would want to make them special, here are few of the advantages of not letting your shopping for the last minute, but starting it even now, when it’s still autumn.
There’s plenty of time to PLAN
One of the best ways to not over-spend with shopping is to have the famous ‘list’ and budget. Why would be Christmas shopping any different?
For years I’d just go in the last possible minute to do my shopping and then I’d kick myself for the horrible choices I made. I’d usually spend too much on crap and never was pleased with what I purchased. On top of it all, after few days, when going into various stores, I’d see better possible gifts I could have purchased and clearly better deals.
So, don’t leave it all for the last minute. Now there’s plenty of time to properly budget and plan. Make your list (check it twice) and start looking around for the needed items. You can now see how the pricing goes, purchase the items in time and not stress out too much on Christmas Eve.
You can get better prices and even sales
When you go to buy the stuff you need in the last possible minute, believe me you won’t make the best choices (nor can you, since time and personal limitations will keep you tied). There’s only this many stores you can visit in a day and prices to ‘compute’. But what happens if you start your purchases earlier? You can see which items come to sale, you can compare store prices, there’s even enough time to buy online and get the presents/items delivered to you (and you don’t even have to pay for any fast delivery).
In my country at least, some of the stores RAISE their prices close to Christmas, since they know many people have failed to properly plan and are now desperate. So, not only we’d get un-discounted prices, we’d actually get some pretty big ones for at least part of the items we’d need to purchase. Talk about completely messing your budget.
Less wrong decisions
Not having the time to properly shop and being stressed about it had made me make some very bad decisions in the past. I’m sure though this is something that happens to many people who have left their shopping on the last possible minute. There were holidays when I would spend MORE money than normal on things that weren’t even that good, but I was too tired and ticked off to really care about it. And I had to bring ‘something’ home.
Now, doing it in time, might give you some different results. With the budget in place and your list, plus being able to track down which stores offer discounts and the best prices, you have enough time to make a good decision and save more money. Once you have most of the list ‘done’, all you need to do last minute is to purchase the items that can clearly not be purchased ahead of time (some food, the tree, if it’s natural etc.)
No more crowds
I’m not a recluse myself and really don’t care about a store being full of people or not. Even so, if there are many people who are buying there, this means I waste more time, I have to wait in line etc. Sometimes the Christmas shopping can really go crazy and being surrounded by stressed people who want to buy and do it fast will make me tired and angry. Instead of waiting for half an hour to pay for your merchandise or try a pair of pants, if you’re doing at least part of the Christmas shopping earlier, you’ll have the store empty (or at least not filled with too many people), the staff will be more attentive and relaxed, you can get better deals and have enough time to look around.
So, your turn now: how much of your Christmas shopping is done ahead of time? When do you start preparing for this? Did it make a difference in your budget?