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One year, I thought I was smart. I did all my Christmas shopping by September. This, I learned, wasn't nearly as wise as I had envisioned.
But oh - was I proud of myself. As I cruised throughout the year, if I saw an item that made me think of somebody, I got it for them and stored it away. If there was something I already knew I wanted to get for a loved one, I waited for a good sale and grabbed it.
I made crafts through the year, and shopped passively. By September, my closet was filled with things I'd made or bought, all ready for wrapping and gifting.
But despite this "flawless" plan, everything fell apart in December.
Here are five reasons why you shouldn't do your Christmas shopping early!
If a friend tells you they want "x" in April, there's a good chance they'll own it by Christmas. By buying something that somebody wants too far in advance, you risk them acquiring it for themselves before you can give it to them.
Along similar lines, if you shop too early in the year, whatever made the item a timely and perfect gift may change by Christmas.
As much as I don't like the mad Christmas rush and the retail frenzy that Christmas has become, there's still something lovely about the lights, music, and decorations; heck - even cruising around full parking lots and contending with icy weather and belligerent buyers can be part of the fun. When your shopping is done early, you can miss out on this (arguable) aspect of Christmas spirit.
Let's say you accompany a friend for their Christmas shopping, even though you're all done. I made this fatal mistake, and ended up seeing even better gifts for people than what I already had for them. Depending on the item, I either remorsefully regretted my early buying decision, or bought the new item anyway (justifying it because it was on sale, but still spending more than was budgeted for Christmas).
What do you do if you've bought your presents already, then a friend or family member approaches you to go in on the BEST gift idea ever as a group purchase?
Sometimes you want to be a part of it, and sometimes group gifts are mired in family politics and impossible to say no to. Not only could you have saved money by not shopping early, but you could have saved time by going in on the group gift - which is often more appreciated anyway since it's a big-ticket item that the recipient might really want but can't afford for themselves.
No matter when you do your holiday shopping, using a Gift Calendar will help you stay on budget throughout the year. And although I'm all for getting things done early, I won't be doing my Christmas shopping early again!
Gift Calendars: How to Remember Special Occasions and Stay on Budget
How to Conquer the Impulse Shopping Syndrome
The Bliss of Forethought for Holiday Shopping
Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo: a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She is a contributing writer under the CareOne Debt Relief Services Life Balance blog. Having sold her business and belongings to travel, she has been on the road since 2007. She travels in a financially sustainable manner, taking advantage of creative volunteering positions. As a former certified Financial Planner, she is financially responsible for her actions along the way. She believes there is a fine balance between planning for tomorrow, and living for today. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services. You can follow Nora on Twitter @hobonora
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Another reason: high-priced items that might be defective are usually not returnable/exchangeable unless the receipt is dated within 90 days. Thus, if you buy Mom that awesome new Blu-Ray player when it's on sale in August and she plugs it in on the day after Christmas, your receipt will be useless to exchange it if it doesn't work because the purchase was made more than 3 months ago. :(
@Elizabeth - Ooh - that's a great reason not to start shopping too early! (Somehow, I can't help but think the blu-ray example might be personal... ha ha)
Summer is almost over, which means that Labor Day is right around the corner. Labor Day is not only a day off of work or school – it’s a day to celebrate our hard work and economic achievements.