When it comes to holiday shopping, it's all about the timing. Sure we're busy, and sometimes we simply can't get around to shopping for gifts until after we've hosted Thanksgiving dinner, taken the dog to the vet, helped the kids study for midterms and decorated the house for the holidays.
In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, last year only 7.6% of Americans had their gift shopping done by the second week of December.
Still, if there's any wiggle room in your schedule at all, consider these four reasons why shopping for gifts early can give you a major monetary advantage ...
1. You'll Shop Smartly When You Start Early.
Think about it: when you're late on your holiday shopping, the last thing you want to do is take more time to scope out the sales. Smart holiday shopping begins with planning and a little bit of sales research. Without the time to do those two things, you'll be left picking up whatever's most convenient, which could be bad for your budget.
2. You'll Have a Better Selection.
Holiday gifts mean so much more when there's careful thought behind them. If you wait until the waning days before Christmas, you'll be at the mercy of picked-over items, or you'll be forced to order gifts online and either have them arrive after the holiday or pay an arm and a leg to have them appear under the tree in time.
3. You'll Have Time to Get Creative.
Even if you don't have the perfect holiday gift in mind for a certain friend or family member, shopping early will give you time to check out multiple stores and, if nothing seems special enough, you'll still have time leftover to come up with a unique do-it-yourself gift option that's thoughtful and carefully crafted.
4. You'll Get More Done Without the Kids.
If you have young children, shopping ahead of time is a good idea for oh so many reasons. If you wait until the holidays are near and the kids are out of school, you'll have to add the cost of a babysitter to your holiday budget. Or, if you end up bringing the kids with you while you shop, you could end up spending more than you bargained for when your kids catch site of all the awesome holiday displays just calling their name, or need to stop for something from the food quart mid-shopping spree.
And if those monetary reasons don't convince you to start shopping earlier this season, consider the stress you'll avoid, and the additional time you'll have, when you reach the holiday and all of your shopping is done.
That's enough to start us humming holiday songs right now ... how about you?
Cheryl Lock is a personal finance writer and former editor at LearnVest and Parents magazine. When she's not writing, she enjoys travel, which she blogs about at wearywanderer.wordpress.com.
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