Start Planning for Christmas – In July!

Little Santa boy on the beach.For many of us, Christmas is the gift that keeps on giving.  Not in the way we would prefer but rather in the form of credit card balances.  If instead, you plan ahead, you can avoid that costly mistake, save money, and truly enjoy the holiday season.
Make a list and check it twice

Is Uncle Eddie on your Christmas list this year?  Will you be shopping only for close family and friends?  Or will you include co-workers, your hairdresser, dog groomer, child’s teacher, mail carrier, etc?  Planning this far out also gives you the opportunity to make homemade gifts.  Besides deciding who is on your list, you need to decide how much to spend on each person. 

Make a budget

Now that you have decided how much you plan to spend on gifts, don’t forget to factor in travel and food costs.  Rather than waiting until November or December to find the extra money, you now have six months to save.  If you plan to spend $1000, you will need to set aside $42 per week.

Money, Money, Money

Where will the money come from?  Two main ways: Make more (easier said than done) or cut costs.  July is a great time of year to purge what you don’t need and have a yard sale.  You could suspend your cable service for the summer and re-allocate the money to your Christmas fund.  You may even designate money to be deposited directly into your Christmas fund on a monthly basis.  By starting early, time is on your side.

Ready, Set, Shop

Start checking out sales!  Avoid paying full price by shopping early.  If you prefer to shop online, you can save money on rush shipping costs.  Just be sure to label each gift so you know who you bought it for and put it in a designated area so you don’t lose it.  Create a map if necessary!

Get crafty

As the holidays approach, you can start on the homemade gifts.  Many people value a “made from the heart” gift over a store bought one.  Pinterest is a great resource for ideas and inspiration.  Be sure to plan enough time to complete the gifts, you can even get the family involved.  If you’re like me, you may want to set aside time on your calendar to avoid procrastinating!

Now that you have your shopping done and your homemade gifts made, all that is left to do is RELAX!  These tips will hopefully help take the stress out of your holidays, but you’ll likely still have to go to that awkward family get together or office ugly sweater Christmas party.

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