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Is It Too Early to Start Christmas Shopping?

Christmas shoppingWhether we like it or not, Christmas will be here all too soon. Christmas is one of the most enjoyable times of the year, but it can also be one of the most expensive. If you’re like us, you have a large extended family and the costs can easily add up. We have found a number of ways to try and whittle down our costs – like not exchanging with all of the kids. However, there is often other cost cutting measures we like to take in order to save money on Christmas shopping.

With that in mind, there is the usual question of whether it’s better to buy most of your gifts in advance to get the best deals and spread out the cost? Or should you just save money throughout the year and wait until the last minute to buy presents? While there may be no one right answer, there are arguments to be made on both sides of the issue.

The Case for Doing Your Christmas Shopping Early

One of the major benefits to doing your Christmas shopping well in advance of the holiday is that it can be a good way to spread out the expense. If you pick up one or two a month as the year goes along, you won’t be overwhelmed by it when December rolls around. If you live your life on a specific budget that accounts for where all of your income goes, spending smaller amounts a little bit at a time may be more feasible than laying out all the money at once. That said, how we handle this expense is by putting aside money throughout the year so if we feel the need to spend money early in the year we have it there to access.

The other major benefit to starting your Christmas shopping early is that you will have more time to shop for good deals. If you put shopping off to the last minute, you might just settle for buying the items wherever you can find them and not paying attention to what they cost.

When time is on your side, you can shop around and make sure you aren’t paying too much for a gift. This can also make the whole experience less stressful, which is a huge win in my book as I hate shopping. By taking the rush out of Christmas you can relax and enjoy the holidays without being stressed over finding all of your gifts in time.

The Case for Waiting

Generally speaking, I don’t like to spend money when I don’t have to. If you’re like me at all, then it pains you to spend when there is no huge and pressing need. I’d much rather hold on to that money in the event something else came up. That’s also not to mention the fact that when the holiday is so far away it can be difficult to rationalize buying something so far off.

There is another element to waiting to do Christmas shopping that can be wise as well as many stores have sales in the days leading up to holiday to try and attract your business. It is not as competitive in the summer months, for some businesses, so you might not find great sales that you can take advantage of. When you shop in the last two weeks before Christmas, you might be able to track down stores that are offering nice discounts, allowing you to get the gifts you have your eye on for less than expected. With that being said though, I’m more prone to getting our Christmas shopping done as early as possible so I don’t have to deal with the crowds come Black Friday or later.

Ultimately, I believe it’s a personal decision as to when you start Christmas shopping. You need to think about what works best for you, your schedule and budget and plan accordingly. As for my family and I though, we’ll be enjoying the days leading up to the holiday at home away from the crowds.

 

When do you typically start Christmas shopping? Is your holiday shopping done yet? Do you hate dealing with the crowds during the holiday season as much as I do?

 

 

Photo courtesy of: Roberto Verzo

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John Schmoll is a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. He's passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes so that they can live lives free from the shackles of debt and empowered to make their money work for them. You can check out his other sites: Frugal Rules, for ways to improve your financial literacy; and Sprout Wealth for tips on different ways to make more money. John has been featured on Forbes, Lifehacker, Yahoo Finance and US News & World Report and more. If you're wanting to grow your blog, check out my blog coaching services to see how I can help you take your site to the next level.

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21 comments

  1. I’d rather buy things or gifts for Christmas in advance. It’s been a customary for the past 5 years. In last-minute shopping, we experienced buying low-quality products and being around with so many people that it was hard to pick the right items and resulted to spending more that what we expected.
    Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted…What is the best way to invest $10,000My Profile

  2. Every year I say I am going to start Christmas shopping early, and every year I end up starting it after Thanksgiving. My biggest issue and my biggest gift getter is my son and the way his tastes change makes it difficult to buy anything too early. Plus, I like him to write a Santa letter and put his wishes in writing so that he can’t complain when he gets what he gets on Christmas because I take a picture of the letter before we mail it.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Shameless Plug Sort OfMy Profile

  3. Last week on a Dave Ramsey episode he said “Christmas is not an emergency. It’s the same time every year.” I think this means that you need to plan far in advance, but you can buy gifts whenever you’d like. The point is to have the money ready and not let it negatively affect your financial goals. Personally, I like to shop about a month before Christmas and always shop with cash.
    Natalie @ Financegirl recently posted…5 Ways To Combine Finances With Your SpouseMy Profile

  4. Almost four months out to Christmas. Yes its way early for me to start buying gifts. I would go so far to contend the best gifts for this year havent hit the shelves yet…lol. But that’s just me.
    Elstad @ Modest Money recently posted…End of August 2014 Blog Update – Yes It’s Been A WhileMy Profile

  5. Over the years, the DH and I have slowly whittled down the gifts we have to buy at Christmas to a select few. We don’t usually exchange gifts with each other either. I can’t handled crowded malls so I like to buy them a couple of months ahead of time and usually I’ll find them online.
    Kassandra @ More Than Just Money recently posted…Financial Fire Drill – Are You Ready?My Profile

    • We’re very close to following you on not exchanging between my wife and I. There’s just nothing we really want and if we need something we can just buy it. We might just start using the money we have budgeted for a night at a nice hotel here in town. Being able to sleep through the night without having the kiddos wake us up is gift enough. 🙂
      John Schmoll recently posted…US Airways Mastercard Review: Get 40,000 Miles Now!My Profile

  6. I have a pretty extensive family and if I buy something for everybody I would be dead broke. Instead we just do a secret santa and we only have to buy one gift. I also buy my fiancee and my mom a gift, but that’s it.

    We all get together, have a big dinner and do the secret santa which always turns out pretty fun.

    Since I only have to buy one gift, I do my christmas shopping a few days before and have been very successful at it.
    Aldo @ Million Dollar Ninja recently posted…7 Supermarket Tricks You Can Use To Save MoneyMy Profile

  7. I definitely have a hard time rationalizing Christmas purchases before the season starts. I think it’s a good strategy to spread out the expense, especially if you don’t enjoy crowds or have a tendency to procrastinate, like me! I also don’t love the holiday season enough to get them started early. I prefer Halloween and Thanksgiving, so thinking about Christmas before these two events is not fun.
    Kendal @HassleFreeSaver recently posted…Money, Manners & Wedding GiftsMy Profile

  8. My Mom always hounds my sisters and I for a Christmas gift in August. We asked her once why she needed it now and she told us because she likes to get it out of the way before the weather gets cold and the stores get busy. Makes sense to me!
    Jon @ Money Smart Guides recently posted…Should You Consider Investing In Binary Options?My Profile

  9. I was trying to hit a spending threshold for my latest rewards credit card sign up bonus and started looking for Xmas gifts. Some of the things I want though, I know will be cheaper later on.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted…What’s YOUR Make or Break Number?My Profile

  10. While I would say it is not too early, I just never do my shopping this early. Hell, I have started to not shop as much or buy many gifts as I find my time with my family better than a gift.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted…Motif Investing Review – Theme and Idea Focused InvestingMy Profile

  11. It is never too early! However the early displays at the stores bug me like crazy. I usually wait until the end to get the last possible markdown, but got burned last year on the late amazon shipments so I ended up wrapping boxes with pictures of the items for my wife. Yeah….not a good plan. I just hate the crowds, but need to start online earlier.
    Lance @ Healthy Wealthy Income recently posted…100 Grand a Month is Not Enough to Survive! Broke Millionaire Club Member StoryMy Profile

  12. It is NEVER too early! I am a fan of shop early, shop often to get the best deals. While retailers may have better sales on things like electronics closer to the holiday season, outlets have last year’s fall-winter things at a discount right now (or soon), so I like to take a look at the options before deciding to wait it out. Of course, if you have a gift wishlist from those you love, you can always find the item within your budget and just wrap it up. Less of a surprise, but less of a hassle!

  13. We’re lucky that our kids are getting older so their wants stay pretty much the same all year. This year its an iPhone and Google Chromebook. I’m sure in the pre-season I should be able to find some decent deals for both.
    MMD recently posted…Never Let Anyone Compromise Your Goals in LifeMy Profile

  14. We have an arts fest that comes through town in July. This year I decided to get all my Christmas gifts — pretty, unique, and useful.

    I just have to make sure not to buy anything else though!

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