Christmas in July is this week, which means the winter holidays are officially closer than farther away! Before you shake your head at the mention of Christmas, don’t worry. I’m not suggesting you start decorating or even counting down. But if you start saving and planning for gifts now, come November and December, you will thank yourself.
Assign each person a dollar amount and an item
Give yourself an idea of budget by deciding who you want to buy for and how much you want to spend on that person. This will give you direction for saving and shopping. You can also take the reverse approach and give yourself a set budget from the get-go, then factor people into it. Say you decide you want to spend $1500 total on gifts, and you want to designate $100 of that to coworkers. If you have 10 coworkers, then the limit is $10, and you can shop in that range without sweating breaking the bank.
You can start compiling your list and numbers now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to start shopping now. It also doesn’t mean you can’t . . .
Start shopping now
Unless you’re going to buy something overtly themed for the winter or holidays, there’s no reason you can’t stretch your expenses out and start in July. For instance, if you know there’s a specific movie or book someone on your list is after, spend that $20 now and then you won’t have to worry about it. A word to the wise, though, if you’re going to start shopping early—have a place to store your gifts so you don’t forget about them come December!
If you’re not keen on jumping into holiday shopping just yet, you’ll still have a budget and you can start putting away a little bit every week or every month until it’s time to shop. One method that a lot of budgeters find effective is to withdraw cash when it’s time to shop. That will ensure you stick to your budget. Just remember to get receipts for what you buy!
Start saving and planning for the gift part of the holidays early so that when the time comes around, you can spend your time with family doing the things that matter instead of fighting crowds or hunting sales. Merry Christmas in July!
Kat’s Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, visit http://communityamerica.com.