Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thursday Money Tips: Jingle Bells in June Edition

Each Thursday Ms. Moneypenny publishes 5 money tips. Have one you would like to see listed? Post it in the comments, and I'll file it for possible future use.

I know what you are thinking "Moneypenny, toots. Get a grip. It's June 26th. Why on earth would I be thinking about the holidays? Come over here and have a margarita. And shut up about winter."

Good point. It is June 26th. And it's the perfect time to be thinking about the holidays. Why? Because then in December when everyone is mad at the other people in the parking lot at the stores or the Fed Ex guy, or fighting a mall full of screaming kids, you get to kick back with a hot buttered rum and smile. Because those poor planners are suffering, but you've been ready for ages. No last minute dashes to the mall for you, my little early planners - the stockings have long been stuffed.

So, here's 5 tips to get you ready for the holidays, and take all the stress off shopping.

1. Casually watch what catches your give-ees eyes
This goes year round. Want gift ideas? Skip the list and just see what interests them over the year. Then shop accordingly. Someone asking your advice about gardening or stamp collecting? Use that as a basis for a great gift.

2. Summer is sale season
Summer is yard sale season. Estate sale season. And all sorts of sale season. Thinking about getting your nephew a bike for Christmas? Why not refurb a cool bike that cost $20, instead of a new one (which will soon look exactly like the used one) that costs $100.

3. Homemade gifts take time.
I have a rule. If my project gifts aren't done by October 31st, they aren't getting done for the holidays. So I start them in January. I usually complete about 1/3 of my planned gift projects, but those gifts often cannot be found in a store. And a family book of recipes or special scrapbook is a great gift.

4. End of season sales are great times to get things for next year
Got a friend that loves to throw parties? Guess what: those fish-shaped plastic ice cubes and margarita machines are all going on sale now. Stick 'em in a closet for a few months, and voila, they are prepped for next summer. All at a low, low price, of course.

5. Slow and steady wins the race
It's far easier to spend $20 here and $10 there than $1000 in a month. Spread the costs out - it just feels better.

Oh, and don't forget to check that gift stash before you run out and shop in December!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

This is a money saving idea that I definitely use. I like to shop for Christmas all year long. For example, I was recently on a work trip to Park City, UT. It's cute ski resort but I was there in their off season. I happen to see a Christmas store going out of business and got some great deals on ornaments which I'll use for stocking stuffers.

I try to keep my eye out all year for good Christmas ideas but probably really start shopping in earnest around September. I just keep a box in my guest room closet where I keep all the little treasures that I find.

I also keep an annual Christmas spreadsheet that helps me keep track of what gifts I've already purchased and what I spent on try to keep myself from going over our target budget.

The other place I watch, especially for stocking stuffers, is the Target $1 aisles. For example, my dad is a big golfer, so earlier in the year I picked up a cute/cheesy pen that looks like a golf club for his stocking this year. It's also a great place for our niece and nephews, we have 4.

If you have young kids that you buy for, especially if they're between 3 and 6, you can also get some good deals on after Christmas sales, especially for stockings. Like last year, I picked up some sticker books and goofy candy cane pens for our niece and nephews. Thinking ahead like that can really pay off, I think I spent about .25c on each, and I know that come Christmas time, they'll be back up to full price around $2-$3 each.