I don't want to scare you away; but I am going to use a word that can put dread and panic into your heart. Christmas.
Christmas you say? It is months away, why are you talking about it now?
Quietly whispers to you, it's only 3 months....
Well, my suddenly terrified reader, because I want you to be prepared this Christmas and not run around like a headless chicken, credit card in hand; buying presents the week before the big day. I have been there. I swore never again.
So here are my top tips for pre planning your gift buying for Christmas without making a mess of your finances with panic purchases. If you plan ahead, Christmas doesn't have to be that stressful. I promise.
Lists Are Your Friend
So you have had a (hopefully) lovely Christmas with friends and family. A few too many festive wines, waaaay too much chocolate and the last thing you want to think of is next year's Christmas planning. My first tip. Have a break first, leave your planning till February.
Next, make a list of the usual family and friends that you will be buying a present for. Add in a miscellaneous gift to the list. For the person who invariably turns up with an unexpected gift that you want to reciprocate.
Alongside the name of each person, write an amount that you are happy to spend on them and will stick to. Now you have a budget that you can save for each month. Add another £50 to it marked Christmas. Trust me.
Take Advantage of Post Christmas Sale Items
OK now I know I told you to wait a couple of months to think about Christmas, but buying some dirt cheap wrapping paper on sale and maybe a few cards isn't going to kill you in January, right? I much prefer my money to go on the contents, not in its wrapping.
What Do Women (Men & Children) Want?
It's June. You made your list a couple of months ago, you've started saving. You are ahead of the game. Now is the time to start thinking about things that you want to buy. Write them on your list. Check out the latest deals, find out when the sales are. That watch you want to buy for your boyfriend for example sounds a lot better at £50 in a sale than £100 two days before Christmas doesn't it?
Live By The List, Don't Die By The List
It's September. Hopefully by now your Christmas saving budget is going well. You have bought a few presents. You are on track. But are you? Sometimes you can plan all you want and then you might have a couple of rough months financially and your saving isn't quite where it should be. Don't panic. You have time.
People appreciate the thought of a present and the time spent coming up with a great gift more than the amount it cost. If you need to make changes, reduce your budget or maybe have that conversation with a friend about maybe not swapping gifts this year, it is ok. The world will not end.
Time To Wrap It Up
It's the end of November. Finish your shopping, wrap your presents. You are set.
The next few weeks will be distributing gifts, office parties and impromptu "hey lets go for a drink, it's Christmas" invitations. Things that you haven't accounted for in your Christmas saving budget. That is what you will spend your extra £50 on. You will, without a doubt, end up spending more, but at least you have a little buffer for some fun.
So that's it! My pre planning for Christmas tips! Let me know what your tips for Christmas planning are.