Living a Better Life
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Avoid the Christmas Budgeting Blues!
by Michelle Jones

Are you just now getting your Christmas bills paid off, from last December? Try this shopping tip instead and ease those gift purchases into your budget painlessly!  More...

If you're like most people, it probably takes you several months to get your bills paid off after the joyous Christmas season. Try this shopping tip instead and ease those gift purchases into your budget painlessly... don't wait until December to do your Christmas shopping, collect those special gifts all during the year!

"You've finished Christmas shopping, in October!" Well yes, I'm proud to say, I did that last year for the first time in my life. It wasn't easy, but the shocked look on people's faces when I told them I'd finished my Christmas shopping so early made it even more glorious. Especially, when I'm usually the one being shocked by someone else bragging about his or her own such accomplishment. Maybe that's why I did it; I just wanted to see if I could. It's not like I have a small shopping list either, we have a large extended family, and add to that, my own 4 children.

You're probably wondering how I got it all done so early, or maybe you've already decided I'm one of those crazy, completely over-organized women who get everything done ahead of schedule. Well let me assure you, that is not the case, at least not the crazy part.

I had a great reason for getting my shopping finished early, besides just seeing if I could do it. I wanted to be able to enjoy the holidays with my family just a little bit more. Three of our children are in school now, and we're busier than ever. The holidays tend to be so stressful for me, preparing for company or taking a trip to see relatives. The school programs, church programs, picking out Christmas cards (which can take me several shopping trips just to find the right ones), hand addressing the cards (I try to send them out 2 weeks early), trying to put together a family newsletter and photos of the kids (to enclose inside the cards), planning menus and grocery lists, office parties, school parties, etc… I'm getting exhausted just thinking about all of it.

With all the preparations for Christmas, not to mention Thanksgiving just 4 ½ weeks prior to that, how in the world do we manage to choose wonderful, meaningful, gifts for our loved ones? Maybe this is only a problem for me, being a busy mom of 4, but I think most people can still benefit from my plan. It's never too late to get started, but I do recommend starting in January if you can. As the months go by, keep a list of who you've found that perfect gift for and who's is still yet to be found.

This is especially great for people who love to shop anyway, but really don't have the extra money to buy anything. Because shopping for those special Christmas presents doesn't count, you can actually save money by purchasing your gifts early. You can often find these wonderful gifts on sale, and I highly recommend doing so. For a true frugal shopper, nothing is worse than paying full price for something, only to see it go on sale a month later. I try my best to avoid this spending nightmare, and for the most part, I do pretty well.

Sometimes, once I decide what the perfect gift for someone is, I will postpone the purchase if I suspect a future sale. However, there are those "hopefully perfect" gifts that are not on sale, and may never go on sale. As well as those *one of a kind* items, that if you pass up for another day, might be gone forever. Sometimes you just have to go ahead and make that purchase, if it's within your budget for the month. And this brings to light another reason for shopping so early... by purchasing just a few gifts at a time, we've paid for them a little each month (interest free), instead of all at once!

I hope this shopping tip has been helpful, though giving gifts is not what Christmas is all about, it is a very special part of our tradition. It's wonderful to give those special gifts that you've put some time and thought into. I wish you a wonderful Christmas shopping season (all year long), and may all your gifts be well received!

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Copyright © 2001 by Michelle Jones. All rights reserved.

Author of...

Dealing with Debt, Frugal Family Recipes Cookbook

The Better Budgeting Class: A 5-Week Course, and 

101 Coupon Tips... To Help You Save More at the Store!


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