Saturday, June 25, 2011

Merry 6 Months Until Christmas! Start Planning Today.

When the weather outside is...90+ degrees...who wants to think about Christmas?

But in reality, 6 months is not that far away. If your holiday planning went smoothly last year then you might not feel any urgency to think about Christmas 2011, but if you overspent, shopped at the last minute and paid the price well into spring then you might want to rethink this year's strategy.

Here are some questions to ponder:
  • How much did you spend last year?
  • Are you okay with that number?
  • Did you pay cash or use a credit card to buy gifts?
  • If you used a credit card, when did you pay it off?
Personally, I'm not doing so well with my planning. We usually use a credit card to buy our Christmas gifts and then pay the balance off in January. We like to earn the points, but that strategy led to some over-spending last year on gifts. We also waited too late to even start shopping, so I'm sure that didn't help with the over-spending.

I intended to set aside cash every month this year for Christmas gifts. This past January, I looked at what we spent on Christmas gifts in 2010 and reduced it by 20%. I divided that number by 12 and decided that was what we would set aside each month. It was a great strategy that first month, but I haven't been diligent enough to transfer the money to our savings account.

Hit the Restart button.
  • Make a list of your Christmas gift recipients AND other Christmas expenses, like cards, stamps, hostess gifts, decor.
  • Develop a Christmas gift budget for each person or expense on your list.
  • Add up your budget and starting today, set aside money each month.
  • Think outside the 'gift' box when it comes to gift ideas. Handmade gifts, homemade meals, home baked goods are all gifts from the heart for those hard to buy for people.
  • With 6 months to go and a list in hand, you now have time to keep your eye out for sales and clearance bargains.
Have you started planning for Christmas? Did you over spend last Christmas? Let us know in the comments.

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Image: Paul /


  1. After scrambling to pay for Christmas last year, I decided to save $20 a paycheck this time around. It transfers to my Christmas fund automatically (yay PNC Virtual Wallet!) and I should have $500 by December. Haven't even thought about all the people I need to buy for and what I'll get them, but at least I know the financial part of it is covered.

  2. I almost wish you hadn't mentioned it! I can't believe we are half way through the year!

  3. Andrea - YAY! a cash Christmas...good for you.

    Robert - I know I can't believe it either.

  4. Learning from last Christmas! So this year we've already started saving a certain amount every month so that I have cash to spend in December. I'm also keeping an eye out for great sales now to start buying things for all the people on our list. I feel a lot of relief knowing that I'm starting early this year.

  5. Borrowing from Penny at the Saved Quarter I have started a $500 Holiday Challenge. I use Amazon Giftcards, as well as picking up deals for friends and family throughout the year.

  6. I always shop for Christmas all year as I get good deals. I can't imagine doing it any other way.

  7. This reminder is a good idea. I try to make most of the gifts, I need time and this reminder will kick start my tasks. Thanks.


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