Recently, I bought Christmas stocking-stuffers. I did it because my brain told me I’d stumbled upon some things that were on sale and quite perfect for my kids. But I didn’t enjoy it. I’m an emotional shopper, and right now I’m all about summer. I have no desire to think about Christmas. I like to wait until about Dec. 15, then do it all in a couple days when everything is all Christmasy and I’m in the holiday mood.
Here’s the problem: I’ve done that Dec. 15 thing, and I did it for more years than I like to recall. It always started out fun but then turned quickly into shopping panic, where I needed to buy something, anything, to cross another name off the list.
Year after year, I’d say through clenched teeth and spiking blood pressure: “I’ll just use the credit cards this one last time. Then, I’ll pay them off really fast in the new year. No one will know. It’ll be OK just this one last time.” Sure. Right.
Maybe I’ve matured more than I give myself credit for. I’ve stopped shopping emotionally. I know that I just can’t take the pressure, expense and the stress of the December 15 shopping crush.
For 20 years now, I’ve tried to start early (July is my target month), and while it’s not all that much fun, it’s good for me. I’m relaxed. I can ponder and compare. I have time to think, design and create. I’ve never done it perfectly where, come August or so, I have everything wrapped and ready, but each year I do a bit better.
As for the stocking-stuffers, I wrote a note in my calendar on Dec. 1 to remind me what I got and where I put them. And I was surprised to find two other notes I’d already written to myself about gift wrap and cards left over from last year. Apparently, once I write something down, I give myself permission to forget about it.
All that to say, like it or not, now is a good time to start thinking about the coming holidays. We’ve been celebrating Christmas in July for many years at Debt-Proof Living. And I’ve shared all kinds of ideas, hints, tips and tricks over the years in this Everyday Cheapskate column.
So, do you want to join me? Do you have ideas, tips and recipes to share? Let me know in the comments section below! I want to share your holiday tips, strategies and ideas so we all can benefit by starting early—because I am convinced that the longer I wait, the more I end up spending. If that’s not a good reason to start early, I just don’t know what is.
The holidays will be here before we know it. I plan to welcome them knowing that I’m ready to enjoy, that I didn’t overspend and for sure I didn’t set myself up for a holiday stroke.