It’s October, so naturally the department stores are telling me I should be shopping for Christmas tree ornaments, winter coats, and stocking stuffers. Don’t tell them that I haven’t even bought my kids’ Halloween costumes yet, and I just picked up my first bag of candy corn (even though I first spotted it in stores this past August).
It’s a personal pet peeve of mine to get annoyed when pre-season commercials and store displays are thrust in our faces way too early. I like to shop in the season, not three months out. To me, it’s a constant reminder that we need to hurry up or we’ll miss out on something — the hottest colors, the hard-to-find item, the best sales price, etc.
While I’ve been on the planet long enough to know that the sales always seem to come back around, I’ve come to learn that there could be some instances when early holiday shopping is in your best interest. Unlike the retailers, I’m not trying to rush you — just pointing out how spacing out your shopping could help you save money if you do it right. Here’s why:
You won’t go into panic mode and buy just anything at the last minute. I’ve done the marathon holiday shopping, and it probably resulted in me spending a bit more than I would have because I was working against the clock. If you’re trying to stick to all-cash spending and not overloading your credit cards, spreading out your shopping can help make budgeting easier.
You’ll have time to watch prices and comparison shop. If you spot something that you think a loved one would appreciate as a gift but it’s a bit beyond your price range, you can make a mental note as to where you saw it and how much it was, and then track the price online or by calling the store.
You can take advantage of layaway programs. One big reason that I’m not very big on shopping early is because I don’t have a lot of spare room to keep gifts in my home. Layaway helps solve that problem since the retailer will hold the items until you pay them off and pick them up. Plus, it’s another way to stick to your cash-only plan.
You can jump on a sale — just don’t forget about it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked up something cute for one of the kids because I didn’t think I’d find it again, hid it in the closet, and then totally forgotten about it until spring cleaning time. Oops! The key to shopping early is being organized, keeping a list, and checking it twice (sorry, couldn’t resist!).
You can place online orders and not have to worry about the shipping times or paying extra for express delivery. I’ve kicked myself a couple of times for not thinking of a great gift idea until after the window for free delivery had passed. Unless you’re an Amazon Prime shopper (that’s been my procrastination savior, countless times!), you should give your online orders a couple of weeks to arrive. In other words, there’s no time like the present to start shopping.
If you’re someone who has a gift closet and has been picking up items all year long, I don’t understand how you do it (and I’m also a little jealous). For the rest of us who are barely in Halloween mode, thinking and planning ahead to December seems like a foreign concept. However, it does have its merits if you keep the above tips in mind.
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