It’s never too late to start saving for the holidays. If you start your shopping early enough, you will be less stressed — and less likely to fall into debt. There are a few tricks and tips you might want to take advantage of to help you get the best bang for your buck. Here are a few.
1. Create a Holiday Budget
Having a budget and sticking to it during holiday season is the key to staying out of debt. Now that you are starting your shopping early, following a budget should be much easier. Before saving up or spending any money, consider writing down an ideal price for each family member or friend. Try to stick to a limit. For example, you may want to consider allocating $20 to $50 for each friend. Setting limits for your friends and family will help you stay within budget. (You can see how your credit card spending is affecting your credit by viewing your free credit report summary on Credit.com.)
2. Make a Tentative Gift List
You might want to consider writing down all of the family and friends you plan on shopping for this year. If you have a record of what you bought last year and for whom, then you might want to go off this list to help you prepare for the upcoming season.
Once you have an idea of who you will be shopping for, then you might want to do some research. If you are buying for your child or spouse, try asking them what they want this year. (Tell them you are starting early.) Try to have an idea of what you will be getting before summer is over; this way you’ll have time to search for great coupons and deals.
3. Open a Savings Account
Before making any big holiday purchases, you might want to consider opening a savings account — or as I like to call it, a “What If” fund — to help you save for the holiday season. Try to save for your holiday budget. If this is too difficult, then you might want to consider cutting back on some of your expenses.
If you are starting to save from scratch, don’t worry, you have plenty of time. Consider taking a look at your bank statements from the past three months to see how much you’ve been spending on essential and non-essential expenses. Consider cutting back on some of your non-essential expenses for the next couple months to help you save up for holiday shopping. Keep your holiday savings in a safe place. And try your best not to touch this money at all — it’s for presents only.
4. Check for Deals
Deals and coupons are extremely important when holiday shopping. Now that you are preparing early, you have enough time to stack away coupons in your coupon book. Some coupons may expire in a short time, and if that’s the case, then you may want to purchase some presents earlier than expected (plan for this in your “What If” fund and budget). You might want to consider downloading apps, checking newspapers and local magazines to help you find the best deals.
5. Start Shopping
Congratulations! You have saved enough money and collected enough coupons to start shopping. You might want to consider getting all of your shopping done in a couple weeks. Try to put aside a day where you purchase the majority of your presents — especially if all the stores are near one another. This will help you save time and money on gas. (You can see learn more about credit cards for gas rewards here.)
Before heading to each store, take a look at the gifts you plan on buying online. You might find cheaper options there than in-store.
Early shopping gives you the chance to get gifts at bargain prices. Prices tend to go up around November, so you might want to consider doing most of your shopping in late summer and early fall. You may even find yourself staying up to get the best deals online. Just make sure to get plenty of rest!
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