Back-to-school specials = Christmas stocking stuffers?

Life Balance

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Back-to-school specials = Christmas stocking stuffers?

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My fellow Life Balance blogger, Nora Dunn, published a post a couple of weeks ago on "5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't do Your Christmas Shopping Early."

Back-to-school specials = Christmas stocking stuffers?We didn't plan it this way, but I'm here to give you the other side of the argument.

So even though I liked her post, I'm going to suggest five reasons you should do your Christmas shopping early.

1. Buy on Sale

When you do your holiday shopping at the holidays, you're playing along with a giant marketing strategy designed to get you to part with the most dollars possible. I'm not opposed to marketing on the whole (it's how I make my living), but I don't want to be that shopper who's padding the retailer's profit margins. When you buy early, you can buy on sale -- even if its crayons from back-to-school that you'll put into the kids' stockings come Christmas.

2. Find Something Different

Nora raises the good point that, if you buy too early, some of the people on your list will buy for themselves whatever it was you got for them. My way to counteract this is to try to find something unusual but appropriate for my loved ones. Maybe you find a book that you know your mother will enjoy, but would probably never come across on her own. Maybe you find something (or make something!) handmade that Dad will love, but that couldn't be replicated in any store. In my experience, thoughtful gifts like those tend to make a much better impression than just another sweater or pair of socks.

3. Free Yourself from Pressure in December

I love the holidays, and by the time they get here, I'm going to be ready to visit, relax, listen to good music, and eat. To me, hunting for last-minute gifts is not a fun part of the equation. So it's a big relief to have my shopping done by then.

4. Control Your Spending

This relates to point #1 above, but I'm thinking more broadly. In an earlier post, Nora laid out a great approach to setting up a gift calendar for you. Anything you can do -- making a calendar, doing your shopping early -- to make sure gift-giving fits into your overall spending priorities is a good thing. Especially if you've had challenges with your financial footing in your past, it's good to be deliberate and methodical about how you shop.

5. Rethink Your Whole Approach to Gifts

This also meshes with the idea of avoiding spending too much during the holiday rush, but here I'm really talking about what gifts mean to you and to those you love. In too many families, there are unreasonable -- and frankly materialistic -- expectations set around gift-giving. Everyone spends too much, and the kids especially come to expect piles of lavish gifts like a birthright.

I suggest we can all benefit by pulling back a little bit and reconsidering what our gifts mean -- to us as givers and to the loved ones who receive them.

Maybe thinking about Christmas shopping in the heat of August will help you find a better way to express your good feelings for your friends and family.

What will you do this year -- shop early, or do it all during the holidays?

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Tim WalkerTim Walker

Tim is a writer, marketer, and social media pro living in Austin. He joined CareOne's blogging team as a contributing writer for the Life Balance blog in 2009. As a blogger who has personally overcome debt challenges, he draws from his own experience to provide tips on living a balanced life and keeping fit. You can read more of his thoughts (on fitness and everything else) at his personal blog, What I've Learned So Far. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services.

Follow Tim on Twitter; @Twalk or follow us by clicking here!

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  • Hey Tim - Great article! (Despite the fact that you took an opposite stance to mine)! You make some great points, and I enjoy the reparte.

  • Likewise, Nora!

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