Did I just say Christmas? Yes, yes I did. You’re probably saying ‘TOO SOON SARAH’, and I get it, trust me. Summer has hardly even started, and I already want you to start thinking ahead to winter…gross! But that doesn’t mean I’m not right. Christmas can be hella expensive, but planning ahead can save you time, money and stress. So yes, we’re talking Christmas planning today folks.
I have been the person frantically running around the mall the week (the day) before Christmas attempting to grab some not terrible gifts. Usually, this happens because I was unprepared and didn’t have the money to spend. I love Christmas, like love it, but this is not the way to set yourself up for an enjoyable holiday season.
FRANTIC LAST MINUTE SHOPPING + CREDIT CARDS = JANUARY BLUES
The last couple of years I have been way better about getting a jump on Christmas planning. It all comes down to starting early. I know, June might seem ridiculously early. It is. And I won’t be out there doing the bulk of my shopping until later in the year. But getting the jump on it now can save you a serious headache when the snow starts flying. Today I want to share with you how I keep Christmas at the back of mind throughout the year and how that helps me save time and money.
Even if you have nixed the gift-giving with your family, there are always expenses involved in celebrating Christmas. It could be hosting a big turkey dinner, travelling to visit family, putting up lights on your house, so you don’t look like Scrooge, or buying copious amounts of rum and eggnog to survive the holidays. Budgets are blown in December; it happens ALL the time.
How do you avoid that? You plan for it!
Many of us will keep separate savings accounts for a new car or an upcoming vacation, so why not do the same thing for Christmas? I’m a big fan of multiple savings accounts, and I do have one I use specifically for Christmas. Every month I have an automatic contribution go into that account so that I can reach for that instead of my credit cards when I start shopping. Well, I still use cards for the points, but I’m able to pay off the balances right away because I’ve got the money saved. It’s so much easier to come up with $50 a month than it is to come up with $600 in January.
Keeping Christmas on your mind year round can be a difference maker when it comes to the quality of gifts you buy. Maybe you’re heading off on a summer vacation to some exotic locale. Maybe that exotic locale specializes in silk scarves that your mom would love. Or hand-thrown pottery that would be a hit with your Grandma. Or wine…for everyone.
You don’t even need to be going on vacation to stumble upon something perfect. One of my Dad’s favourite Christmas gifts was a box-set of Clint Eastwood classics (he’s old school) that I grabbed at Costco in August. Good gifts seem to find you when you’re not looking for them; you just need to have gift-giving at the back of your mind.
Another great place to find a unique gift is your local farmer’s market. Markets are a lot more prevalent during the summer months (at least in areas that have winter to deal with). If you’re already there stocking up on local produce, then stop and take a local at the artisan booths as well. Something might catch your eye that would make a great gift. There are always markets specifically for Christmas, but they tend to be busier and often more expensive.
This especially applies to travel. If you’ve ever had to book a last-minute plane ticket to fly home for Christmas, you will understand how expensive that can be. Instead, keep an eye out on seat sales throughout the year so you can book at the lowest possible price. There’s even an app for that! It’s called Hopper, and it’s so helpful. You can set up a watchlist for flights, and they’ll keep you in the loop about price increases and decreases as well as info about historical pricing. If you fly, you should check it out.
Planning out gifts early also gives you time to monitor sale prices. If there’s a specific item, you’re looking at then maybe sign up for the company’s email list. Usually, I’m against promo emails, but they are an excellent way to score a deal on a gift. Just remember to unsubscribe once you’ve bought it.
Maybe travel and gifts aren’t the budget busters this year, but Christmas decorations will be. The best time to buy lights, trees, ornaments, etc. is right after Christmas. A little late for this year but hit up Canadian Tire the week after Christmas and you’ll be able to stock up for half price. Also, the dollar store. I own more than a few dollar store holiday items. You don’t need to splurge on something that spends eleven months of the year in a plastic bin in your basement.
There are very few things that feel better than waking up on December first and knowing your Christmas shopping is done. People will hate you, but you will be floating with a sense of accomplishment. Sure, you might still have to survive the hell that is hosting Christmas dinner, but you won’t have to go the mall in December. Take that win savour it!
Not having to stress about gift list and finding the time to shop is huge. It means you can do the things you actually enjoy about Christmas. Maybe you can have a Christmas movie marathon, or tour the best-decorated houses in your city, or see the Nutcracker. I love Christmas, and it’s because of all that stuff…not the prep.
If you follow the year-round savings plan we talked about above, you’ll also avoid much of the money stress that comes with Christmas. It’s easier to say no to a bad deal on the perfect gift in October than it is in December. Getting better deals combined with already having the money saved up will make budgeting a breeze, and you won’t be afraid of checking your credit card statements in the New Year.
Thinking about Christmas in the middle of summer might sound like the worst idea ever, but it can do wonders for your December self. It gives you time to search out the best deals, find gifts people will appreciate and save up the money to spend guilt-free. Be the person everyone else is jealous of in December and get started on your Christmas planning now!
Tell me about your Christmas style? Do you put off everything until the last possible minute or are you a pre-planner?
This post was proofread by Grammarly.