Are you familiar with the term Christmas creep?
This is the term used to describe the phenomenon in which retailers start putting out decorations and sale merchandise many months before the actual holiday season.
Nowadays it’s not unusual to see Christmas wrapping paper in the same aisle as Halloween costumes.
So while retailers are getting the jump on exploiting your holiday good cheer to their own financial ends, you can turn the tables on them and use the premature ebullition of the season to spend less than you ordinarily would.
By getting into holiday mode sooner rather than later you can be planful in preparing for holiday spending and save money on things you would buy anyway.
Make a List, Check it Twice
The most important thing to do in advance of the holidays is to know with certainty who you are going to be spending money on. This is similar to all other budgeting. Once you have your list of gift recipients, you can then determine how much you are going to spend on each one.
Don’t forget Christmas tips as well. If you’re inclined to drop a few extra bucks to your mail carrier, hairdresser, housekeeper, doorman or other service providers then put them on your list as well.
Set Your Limit
Once you have an idea of how many people you’ll need to get gifts for you can decide on a total, final, amount of money you are going to spend this holiday season. That complete, you have to assign a dollar value to each person’s gift.
The tough part will be sticking to it.
The Fun Part
Now that you’ve done the heavy lifting, the fun begins. You can start shopping for gifts for everyone on your list. Given that you have months to do your shopping, you can take advantage of in-store sales, coupons, promotions, special offers and every other incentive that stores and online retailers use to get ahead of the competition.
And if you’re not shopping at the last minute, you can haggle, negotiate and walk away from any deal that’s not bottom-dollar.
Join Santa’s Workshop
Because retailers know they’re going to have extra foot traffic and extra sales during the holiday season, the almost always hire more staff to cover the rush. This is an excellent time to pick up a few extra bucks as season help. Sites like Simply Hired can point you to local temp jobs in your area.
This can also be a springboard into more money moving forward as many employers look to keep their best seasonal workers on as full-time employees once they’ve seen them in action.
Prepare for the Unexpected
Despite all your planning, you may still have unforeseen holiday expenses. Your job may have a Secret Santa event that would be bad for your career if you didn’t participate it. A relative may have a newborn baby.
Now is the time to set aside a few bucks for these budget-busters so you won’t have to break out the credit cards at the last minute. You’ll also have expenses for tape, wrapping paper, entertaining and other ancillary costs that people incur over the Christmas season, but if you know that they’re coming then you won’t have to borrow to meet them.
Good luck and happy holidays. (Or is it too early to say that?)