About ten years ago I decided to start preparing for Christmas earlier in the year. With kids and working I was always exhausted and stressed by Christmas from all the work involved in preparing for the holiday. One of the biggest problems was not planning for the financial impact of Christmas. I would end of charging things when I ran out of money in December and paying all year long for a Christmas that had long passed. I started to search for ways to plan financially for Christmas and to make sure I only paid cash for gifts and supplies.
Here are a few of the things I have done that have helped me to be a cash only Christmas shopper.
First, I have a Christmas account and this is nothing new. These have been around forever. I admit I do occasionally raid it for the kids birthdays so I know I cannot rely only on this account.
So the second thing I do is to pick up gifts as I see them through the year. This has really helped with minimizing the shopping I have to do in November and December. One key is to keep all those early gifts in one place and to keep track of them. I'll share a link to a great site to help keep track.
Thirdly, since we have lots of teens who love gift cards to buy for, I start in about June to buy a gift card about twice a month when I do my grocery shopping. The stores all sell so many different kinds I just keep purchasing them and marking them off my list. A little extra in the grocery budget saves so much come Christmas time. I just store them in my gift cupboard.
I also wanted to share a site with you that I have used for so many years now I can't remember when I started their holiday plan.
This site has all kinds of lists, ideas and ways to prepare for the holidays throughout the year. I now have my Christmas cards done in October and most of my gifts purchased and wrapped by Thanksgiving by following their plan.
They show you ways to bake and freeze ahead, how to start on your housecleaning systematically to be prepared by Christmas.
Now, I will tell you I do not do all of their suggestions but I just do what I can ahead to make life easier. Some years I do better than others but the reduction in stress alone and more free time in December is so worth starting ahead. I find I am cranky if I am stressed at the last minute and who wants to be cranky come Christmas. Check them out and see if you can find some hints that may help your holiday planning.