If you were aghast at how much you spent on holiday gifts when the credit card bills arrived last January, now is the time to start thinking about how to avoid a repeat performance of holiday debt. Even though it feels painfully early to start thinking about the holidays, starting now will give you plenty of time to budget, build a shopping fund and do a little early shopping so you’ll hardly have a bill to pay.
It’s an ideal time to set a budget for your holiday shopping. Make a loose list of what you bought and spent last year, and then evaluate your current financial situation. Can you spend the same, spend more, or do you need to cut back? If you need to cut back, look at groups you exchange gifts with, like family or co-workers, and suggest a different scenario, like drawing names, a White Elephant exchange, or with family, propose that adults only give gifts to the kids. The other people in your group are probably in the same boat and will appreciate the suggestion!
No Holiday Fund? Start Stashing Now
Set up an account TODAY with a savings platform, like Acorns. It’s so easy to set up an account and it will take the “spare change” every time you use your linked card and invest it for you. What I mean by this is that if you spend $10.50 on your debit card, Acorns will take $.50 and add it to your Acorns account. You can even set it for 2x or 3x roundups and designate an additional amount to be withdrawn every month. By Black Friday, you’ll have a nice little pot to shop with.
Use My Favorite Tools to Save
To avoid a mad dash in December – and potentially overspending because you’re in a rush – start shopping now. As you build your gift list, set deal alerts with a site like Slickdeals.net, so you’ll know when your items go on sale or create your own sale by shopping with a discounted gift card from GiftCardGranny.
Get the Best Deal on Online
You can find so many amazing gifts on Amazon (and shop in your pj’s!). But it’s hard to tell whether or not you are getting the best price. There’s a nifty tool called Invisible Hand, which you install for free and while you browse, it looks for better prices elsewhere, which will give you a sense of whether you should buy now or wait, and if there’s a coupon that can be applied to your purchase.
Starting early can also give you time to make some of your gifts, if you’re creative that way. DIY gifts can be a huge money saver, and the act of hand-making knitted items, ornaments, collages, etc, will be so much more pleasant if you’re not frantically throwing things together at the last minute!