Is it too early for Christmas shopping?

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It’s fair to say that early Christmas shopping divides opinion. Are you a planner or a last-minute rusher? Do you count the sleeps until Christmas from July onwards, or do you say, “Bah! Humbug!” to the festive season until December? Most of us probably fall somewhere in the middle.

Here, I pull on my sparkly reindeer jumper and explain why it’s not too early to start your Christmas shopping now. I take a look at how to plan for Christmas and how being organised could save you time and money.

[top_pitch]

Start saving early for Christmas shopping

Christmas comes but once a year, and it’s an expensive time. With presents, food, socialising and travel, December can cost a small fortune. It makes sense to start setting money aside for Christmas throughout the year. Here’s an approach that works for me and my family:

Set a budget for presents – work out how much you want to spend on each person. Don’t forget to include stockings and work gifts. 

Set a budget for food – remember that you normally buy food each week, so the budget should be for the extra food costs.

Save money throughout the year – you can do this in a separate savings account.

Get planning Christmas shopping early

As a busy Mum, I have loads of people to buy for at Christmas. I like to start making a list in September with present ideas. A well-chosen budget-friendly present can be just as nice as something expensive bought at the last minute. Here are my tops tips for planning for Christmas shopping:

List all the people you buy for with the budget for their presents.
Note down any ideas or presents you have already bought for each person. I find that thinking about presents early really helps to save money. I’ve got time to spot good present ideas and shop around for bargains.
Ask your partner to help. Ideally, they should sort out presents for their own extended family so that all the burden isn’t on one person. If you know someone well, it’s often easier to come up with a budget-friendly present idea. Yes, you can quote me on that!
Talk to other family members. If you club together, you might be able to buy a larger item without breaking the bank.
Think about big-ticket items your kids will need soon and consider buying them for Christmas. Getting kids things they need as part of your Christmas shopping saves money overall because they would need those items anyway. 
Keep an eye on deals. Prices often vary a lot, so it pays to grab them when prices are at their lowest.

[middle_pitch]

Plan ahead for Black Friday

It’s a good idea to use Black Friday to stock up on gifts, but it’s easy to get carried away. If you want to save money but still stick to a budget, it’s a good idea to plan carefully for Black Friday. Here are some ideas:

Write a list – it makes sense to plan the presents you want to buy over Black Friday so you don’t overspend on random stuff. A disco fridge thermometer, anyone?

Check and compare pricesBlack Friday deals aren’t always what they seem. I like to use a price check website like Camelcamelcamel to compare the Black Friday prices to historic costs. Then I can tell if I’m really getting a good deal on my Christmas shopping.

Look at Amazon Warehouse – there are often amazing deals on nearly new tech. Some years, Amazon even reduces the prices of its Warehouse items by an extra 30% during Black Friday. Products are often discounted due to a tiny scratch that doesn’t affect their use at all. They still come with Amazon’s normal one-year warranty, so you won’t miss out if there’s a problem.

The post Is it too early for Christmas shopping? appeared first on The Motley Fool UK.

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