It is 10 months before the December holidays, so why on earth are we talking about shopping in January? Wouldn’t it feel great to have most of your shopping done before the stores get crazy? And, more importantly, wouldn’t it be nice to spread your spending out throughout the year instead of all at one time – and get one big bill? It is never too early to make the holidays easier and more enjoyable. Here are four simple ways you can take the sticker shock out of the holidays.
- Buy a gift card every month – Every month, purchase a gift card to stores you know that you will be visiting to get your gifts. This is especially helpful if you do not normally shop at these stores. That way, you won’t be tempted to “borrow” money from your Christmas fund. Or, if you know you are going to be getting someone a gift card, purchase it when you have some wiggle room in your budget, instead of putting it on your credit card in December when you don’t have extra money to spend. Purchasing a gift card early is a safe bet because the amount stays the same and gift cards never go out of style. Of course, if you do buy gift cards early, make sure the store is in good standing and won’t go out of business before the holidays. Also check to make sure there is no expiration date (there shouldn’t be for gift cards).
- The Penny Challenge. This idea is one I ran across from a Facebook post at the start of 2016. Set aside a penny for each day of the year. For January 1st, you set aside a penny, for January 2nd, you set aside 2 pennies. Come January 29th, by using this methodology, you would have a total of $4.35 saved. By the holidays you will have saved up a total of around $668.00!
- You get better deals on stuff at different times of the year – This post from The Peaceful Mom gives a breakdown of items that are typically on sale throughout the year. The one that really stood out were the holiday cards after Christmas, you can get them dirt-cheap as stores are trying to clear their inventory of seasonal items that did not sell during the holidays. They may not still be around this late into January, but keep this in mind for next year.
- Clearance, Clearance, Clearance – As mentioned in item three, stores are always trying to get rid of items they did not sell during the holiday or season. This means they will mark down items or just put them on clearance at massive discounts. If you want to get some outdoor winter apparel (hats, gloves, boots, etc.) for your loved ones, purchase them towards the end of winter/beginning of spring when stores are trying to get rid of last season’s stuff to get rid of the new season’s stuff. As early as right now, stores have steep discounts on hats, gloves, and scarves.
- Use Pinterest – If you have a Pinterest account, pin the items you like. Make sure to add them to a private board so your loved ones won’t see them. Anytime that item drops in price, Pinterest will notify you.
When one finds themselves on a fixed income, especially after retirement, these little things will help offset some of the financial burdens that come during the holiday season. Granted, it is a little early to think about the holidays, but with a little bit of ingenuity and some timely financial set asides, you can make the holidays much less financially stressful.