As I mentioned before in previous posts about budgeting and living frugally. I try to start my Christmas shopping very early in the year, sometimes right after Christmas if the right thing comes along.
Here is my logic. Why spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars in November and December only. That puts quite a strain on those months budget. Why not stretch out those purchases over the course of the year. A little each month lessens the strain for sure.
For instance lets say you plan on spending $700 total for gifts for your entire family. If you were to break that down to a monthly expense that would be only $60 per month. Not bad. I think that sounds more managable than spending it all in one month (a month where heating bills happen to be higher also putting more strain on that budget).
Here is a visual example of what a years worth of spending for Christmas could look like
January- $70- niece on clearance, stocking stuffers, wrapping paper
February- $150- Mom and Dad joint gift
March- $60- Mother in Law
Arpil- $70- Father in Law
June- $70 – stocking stuffers
July- $140- Boy’s gifts
August- $140- Paul and I gifts
September- $70- brother and wife
October- $70- friends and coworkers
November- 70- grandparents
December- $100- the covetted item for the boys and maybe a few more stocking stuffers
An added bonus in doing things this way is that when I find something on sale that I know someone would like I pick it up, making the Christmas budget stretch even more. I recently found a Fisher Price Mommy and Me play set that had a talking doll, bed, tricycle, table and chair. This set was regularly $49.95 and it was on sale for $12! I picked it up in a heart beat for my niece. There was nothing wrong with it, all the packaging was perfect. This means she not only will get one present from us, maybe even two or three since we had a much higher budget for her gift. Bonus!
Don’t get me wrong I don’t only buy things on clearance. But spreading the expense out over the year definately makes it easier and if I find a deal, it only sweetens the pot for the reciever because they get more gifts.
We ussually wait until right before Christmas to buy the Santa gift for Ezra because he gets pretty specific about what he asks for and there is no way to predict what it may be. So we save that for last. Most everything else is bought ahead of time. It really works. Another added bonus, I loooove shopping, so I get to shop a little bit all year long.
One site I love to puruse the sales on is One Step Ahead. They are a store that specializes in everything for little guys whether that be safety, toys, clothes, costumes, pretty much everything. They have great sales (they have a great one going on right now, actually). If you check out the off season stuff you can pick stuff up really discounted. Right now thier swim items are on sale and halloween stuff.
Anyhow, I digress, the point is that if you spread out the expense over the entire year December is much more enjoyable. If I don’t see something in particular sometimes I will just go on a mission and think “Ok this month, I am going to find something for Mom” and I do. Even if I don’t find something on sale it is still lessening the financial burden of December. Then I think one down.. Wooohooo. I love pulling down my boxes of goodies that I have purchased and going though it. I always find such great stuff, some on clearance and some not, but all saving money and living in our budget and making it easier to give great gifts for the holidays. Yay.
As a side note, I found a handful of sweaters and long sleeve shirts for Ezra for back to school at Target and Gymboree and could not resist picking them up in the next size. Back to school shopping is so much fun… but dropping a few hundred dollars all at once for supplies, fees and clothes isn’t. So I thought, buying a few things on sale now would make it a little easier. Why not?