Holiday stress is NO FUN at all. I experienced it last year, so I would know. Here’s my number one way of getting rid of it (hint: prevention).
This is not a gimmick by the stores in order to get you to go shopping months and months ahead of time due to a lag in quarterly sales (have you noticed that holiday advertisements just get earlier and earlier every year?).
Rather, this is a reminder that Christmas is four months away, and instead of me touting the benefits of shopping all year round when we are in the throes of the holiday season and it is too late to make a difference in your budget (what typically happens is I write about my Christmas savings around Christmas time when you can’t take advantage of any strategies), I’ve decided to write about this now.
My Stress-Free Christmas Shopping Strategy
My Christmas strategy is to shop all year round, starting as early as the mind-boggling, after-Christmas sales in January. By shopping all year round I have ample time to find that perfect present for each person on my list — alleviating my holiday stress — I can wait until a coupon and/or sale comes through my door, my December and January budgets are not decimated because I’ve spread the purchases out, and I avoid the mad dash that can make holidays so stressful.
Come Christmas season — if I’ve used this method all year round — then I just have a few gifts to finish up with and the whole gift-shopping experience is leisurely and wonderful.
Not only does this method save me a lot of money, but it increases my dollar’s purchasing power and I end up being able to purchase nicer gifts for everyone than if I had purchased all of my gifts at the same time for full retail price.
I also can take advantage of the clearance sales at the end of three seasons (winter, spring, and summer) which can really add to my bottom line.
Psst: to really do this, you’ll need a safe hiding place in your home. I use a corner-cubby hole in our bathroom (no one will look there). Periodically I take a peek at what I’ve got so that I know who I’ve already purchased for. It works brilliantly!
Some of My Favorite Annual Deals
Some deals that I particularly love throughout the year are:
- When JCPenney’s sends out a $10 off $10 coupon every so often and I pair this with the clearance rack at the end of whatever season we are in.
- Using a coupon for Half Priced Books together with store credit from several books we no longer want.
- Purchasing crafty toys from Michael’s/Joann’s/Hobby Lobby with the 40%-50% off coupons in the newspapers.
- The free $5 gift cards I receive from Magazines.com to use towards subscriptions.
- Going out of business liquidation sales.
- Sign-up bonuses for shopping sites.
Also, many people sell gift cards that they do not want, or cannot use. You can purchase these gift cards at a discount all year round for even more savings on sites like Raise.com and GiftCardGranny.com.
Things to Watch Out For (Besides Holiday Stress)
If you shop for Christmas all year round, there are a few potential hiccups that I’d like to mention.
- Clothes for Growing Kids: Purchasing clothes for a growing child can end up being a money-waster rather than a money-saver. Last year I snagged a gorgeous pair of rain boots for an amazing clearance price of $4.99 in two shoe sizes above my nephew’s current shoe size. Come Christmas, he had outgrown them.
- Expiration Dates: Make sure you look at the expiration dates of the products you are purchasing. Don’t just purchase a product that has an expiration date through January of the following year; give the receiver of the gift some time to actually enjoy it at their own pace.
- Trendy Kid Items: Trends may go out of style with kids/tweens/teens by the time you give them the gift. In January, high school musical may be all the rage, by December it could have been trumped by Twilight or two-headed purple monsters that squirm when you tickle them (who knows what kids are into these days?).
- As Seen on TV Product Clearances: Keep your eyes out for popular As Seen On TV products, as they can go on sale if they don’t sell as much as anticipated and have excess inventory.
- Black Friday Time: There are typically some awesome deals between Thanksgiving and Christmas, specifically on Black Friday. You might want to save a few people on your list to take advantage of these sales and not feel as though you overpaid earlier in the year. Or, you could still take advantage of these sales for stocking up on birthday gifts!
Who knows how much money you could save from shopping all year round for the holidays. Penny from the Saved Quarter was able to spend just $100 on Christmas last year because she shopped all year round using many frugal strategies we’ve discussed here.
Could you knock off 40-60% from what you typically spend? I am sure of it.