, , , , , ,

I love social media. It’ll likely be the death of me, it’s true, but I love it. Facebook and Twitter keep me thinking forward–mostly because of random comments that friends make and I think “Oh, Shiz-nit! I need to be tracking on that too!”–and today is one of those days…sort of. This is more about what I did RIGHT than what I need to be remembering! Meagan, this is for you, and again, thanks for the props!

‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la la la la la, ‘Tis the season to be spending….

Christmas is coming. All the joy, the family, the Birth, the time together…the music!! Oh, it does my heart good.
Christmas is coming. All of the money, the presents, the stress, the money (yes, I know I already mentioned this part)…the music!! Oh, it drives me crazy!

You may fall in a combination of those camps. You may fall in one or the other. Whatever your current relationship with the upcoming Christmas season, I want it to be as stress-free and financially sound as possible.

It’s not even Halloween! I know. The big sales aren’t in place yet. I know that too. I have small children who like to get into things. Um, see the picture above.

Believe it or not, it is in no way, shape, or form too early to start Christmas shopping. I’m not saying that you should go out and buy the big things that are likely going to go on sale on Black Friday or the weeks immediately after. However, if you have some small things to pick up–Santa gifts, things for gift exchanges that will likely come up last minute, this is a great time to do that. Many smaller items hold their prices and don’t go on sale at all. Why? Because the stores know that people are going to run into last minute things they need to pick up and they can just hear the “cha-ching” allllllllll day/week/month/season long. Once or twice I’ve even seen mark-ups on music and movies the week before Christmas!

This is the time, before the humongous holiday rush, to do some research. Do a Google search for “Black Friday ads” for the past three years. Fat Wallet (http://www.fatwallet.com/black-friday/ads/) will get you started for last year…and you can see what went on sale. Look for things that ALWAYS go on sale the days immediately following Thanksgiving and the weeks leading up to Christmas. If something on your list for this year…you do have your list written, right? If something on your list for this year is going to go on sale, wait. Buy it when it’s on sale. Consumer Reports (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/08/best-time-to-buy-things/index.htm) lists the best time to buy things–THROUGHOUT THE YEAR!! (Keep this link handy, save it to your task bar!!)

Kids like to get into everything. I get that. Sometimes my closet is a safe zone, sometimes it’s not. My husband has God only knows what going on in the garage–everyone stays clear of there, so that’s a safe place for us to hide gifts until it’s time to get them wrapped and under the tree. (Did you buy wrapping paper the day/week after Christmas last year? If not, put it on your list to do so this year. The savings are ASTRONOMICAL!!) Other clever hiding places include inside luggage, the box of pregnancy clothes you haven’t gotten rid of yet–donate the clothes if you’re done getting pregnant and hide the gifts in there, borrow a friend’s house/garage/closet. Where else? If you’ve got a good hiding place to share, please let me know!!

Take advantage of secondhand stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army and places that have gently used merchandise for gifts that hold their shape and wear well. If you want to frame pictures for family Christmas gifts this year, the pictures themselves cost a significant amount, so look for nice frames at a secondhand store. Clothes–if you have a pretty princess in your household, get her those skirts and bows at the secondhand stores too! What are other good finds at secondhand stores?

Yes, Halloween, and all it’s wonderful associated ghoulishness is upon us, then Thanksgiving, and THEN Christmas. But, don’t frighten your wallet this Halloween season by ignoring the opportunity to spread out the costs of the coming Christmas holiday season.