Do you ever see those who breeze into December with all their gifts wrapped and ready to go? The secret to this level of preparation and organization is starting months in advance – in other words, during the spring and summer months.
Starting your holiday preparations early can save time, money, and, most importantly, stress. Here are some simple things you can do to get ahead of the holiday season.
Start Saving Now
Putting away a few dollars here and there will add up by the time you reach the holidays. Consider swapping out a small recurring expense and putting the money into a savings account. You can also set up a separate savings account and automatically round up or transfer money at set intervals.
Using automation is a great way to save without noticing the difference in your income. Setting aside $50 a month for your holiday expenses might not pay for Christmas overall, but it could cover some larger gifts or food and keep you from maxing out your credit card.
Pick Up the Basics During the Off-Season
You’ll need to buy or replace a few holiday staples every year. Prices for these items start going up in October — sometimes as soon as September — making the ideal buying window between January and August.
Take some time to inventory at the end of each holiday season to determine what you’ll need for next year. You can get a full list and inspiration at Amazing Christmas. Consider buying supplies like wrapping paper, tags, and cards in bulk.
Create a Master List
The organization is essential when getting ahead of the holidays, especially if you’re starting early. You may find the perfect gift for someone in June and forget all about it by the time December rolls around.
Use an app like Evernote or Google Sheets to create an easily accessible master list of ideas and gifts for the people on your list shares PC Magazine. Creating this document makes you less likely to overlook someone integral, preventing last-minute expenses or embarrassing faux pas.
Use Money-Saving Apps
Get smart with your purchases by using money-saving apps. Honey is an app that searches for coupons and notifies you when a price drop occurs. Other programs like eBates and iBotta also help save money by offering small rebates on your online purchases.
By using these apps, you can time your purchases to get the best possible deal for your holiday gifts and expenses. Don’t forget to track the original price versus how much you saved for an eye-opening experiment.
Set a Holiday Budget
Set a holiday budget and stick to it. Take some time to look at how much you’ve spent in previous years to get a baseline for your current spending habits. From there, you can set a goal to stay under that amount or even carve it back.
When setting a holiday budget, consider all events, food, beverages, and extras. Sometimes just looking at how much we spend can change our habits for the coming years.
Avoid Predatory Marketing Tactics
Finally, slow down your purchases and be mindful of predatory marketing tactics, recommends Hello Step Change. Some common strategies around the holidays are scarcity and time limits. In other words, if you don’t buy this thing now, you’ll never get it, and it will ruin Christmas.
Signing up for email lists is a great way to save money when shopping for the holidays. However, those digital reminders to spend will eventually flood your inbox and encourage you to spend unnecessarily. Take some time at the end of each holiday season to unsubscribe through your emails.
With these simple tips, you can start some basic preparations now and experience a less stressful holiday season. Remember that it’s about making progress, not perfection — every little improvement counts.