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Start planning now for holidays? Am I crazy? Maybe. Maybe Not. Hey, Santa works year round, doesn’t he?
The holidays are behind us and the New Year brough new resolve to do better. Gifts were exchanged, family time is (hopefully) a sweet memory, decorations are (oh please tell me they are) packed away. Holiday time is a wonderous time of the year, full of joy, kindness, love and giving. And let’s just say it now: A HUGE FINANCIAL BURDEON !
Holidays can be a source of major anxiety when trying to figure out how much we have to spend, where the money is coming from or how much is reasonable to spend per person. They take a ton of planning, time and effort. What used to be able to be accomplished in a month to be ready for Christmas, now can take several months to be fully prepared. Yet, we still try to squish it into that 4 week mad dash from Thanksgiving to Christmas. Let give you some help to get off on the right foot for the next Christmas be more enjoyable and less of a financial pitfall.
My advice? Start planning NOW for Christmas. Plan now while this holiday season is somewhat fresh in your mind so you have a reference point. Think in your mind right now…What worked last year and what would you like to do differently? What was a hit and what was a miss? What stressed you out the most and what would you eliminate next year if you could? (sorry, can’t eliminate Uncle Ebenezer!) Be proactive in your thoughts and look forward to the future holidays by planning now.
While thinking big picture will help to set the framework for a smoother holiday season, there are 3 main reasons that I do think are important to start planning and prioritizing now for next Christmas.
Start Planning NOW For Christmas
1. Gift giving. Cut to the nitty-gritty here. Did you overload your kids with presents this year and need to cut back? Now is the time to communicate that to them so they know what to expect for the upcoming holiday season. Explain to them that presents will be less and the holiday season will be more focused on family time, etc. By having this conversation now, it saves the headache of having to explain it later and sets an understanding in their mind of what to expect for the holiday seasons moving forward. Set a budgeted amount per child and START saving now! (we’ll get to the how in a bit)
Also, start planning the types of gifts that you will be giving. Will you be doing handmade gifts? These take a ton of time to make and complete. Handmade gifts take a lot of extra time to make and you need to plan accordingly for that. In your mind, if you know that you are going to give a handmade item, then you can then spend the next several months making and perfecting that item to not feel the rush and pressure of getting it done in a hurry during the holiday season.
2. Stock up on Savings. It’s true. EVERYTHING holiday is on sale the day and weeks following. It is no surprise that Christmas happens every year. Take advantage of those holiday sales going on for staple items that you will use each and every year. Wrapping paper 90% off? Yes. Buy it. Store it. Save it for next year. It will never get old, it won’t go out of style and it will be needed without a doubt to wrap presents. It’s a fool-proof purchase. Other items to think about grabbing on discount for the next holiday use? Bows, holiday print material for crafts, ornaments, decorations, holiday themed paper plates….any of those items are key items that can be used over and over again each and every holiday season. Buy them on clearance fraction of the price. Saving money is a win, but the even better win is that you are already stockpiled and ready to go with a lot of holiday necessities for the next Christmas!
O.K., so Saint Patrick’s day is a ‘green’ holiday.. Green is a popular Christmas color. Keep your eyes out for items like napkins, paper plates, green decorations that can be repurposed for Christmas. Same with 4th of July and Labor Day. Lots of Red in those celebrations! (how fun would it be to have a New Year party with napkins n plates from all the holidays throughout the year to look forward to!)
Don’t think of post Christmas Sales only. There’s a whole year of clearance opportunities. Also, keep an eye out for deals on Gift cards (my favorite!) from stores you frequently shop at for Christmas and stash them safely away. These are like getting a sale on money!
3. Make a plan to be debt free in terms of buying Christmas gifts and items. Earlier, I referenced talking about the possibility of cutting down on the number of gifts for the holiday season, but also important is the ability to understand the need of being able to pay cash for purchases and be debt free during the holiday season. By planning now to pay for everything with cash and refusing to use your credit card, you will save yourself money and frustration over the next several months. Having a cash-only use rule for the upcoming holiday season will result in planning and executing carefully to ensure that the funds are there and the gift is a necessity. Having 11 months to decide on what to buy for someone with cash is also a nice incentive as well, as it takes away that impulse buy which is what typically happens when waiting last-minute to shop.
It may be hard to think about already starting to plan for the next Christmas season, but planning is key in ensuring that your next holiday season is stress free, debt free and full of Christmas cheer. Cheers to a New Year with a new outlook on holiday preparing and planning. The count down is on!
Make a List. Plan. Attack! Keep on Track.