Start Thinking “Holidays” Now

in General, Your Life, Your Money

Thanksgiving is coming soon. And that means the holidays are rapidly bearing down on us. Before you get overwhelmed, think about this: the best way to eliminate the stress associated with the season is to get an early start. And now is the ideal time.

When you want to make the stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year a more relaxed and enjoyable experience with family and friends, a little bit of forethought and effort really does go a long way.

Develop your game plan:

If gifting is your priority, start preparing for the holidays early enough so you’ll be able to keep an eye out for great deals and promotions ahead of time. Plus, if you divide up your biggest tasks (like planning family meals or party preparations) well in advance, you’ll be able to avoid the last-minute rushing around.

When you have a step-by-step action plan, getting through the organizing and shopping aspects of the season will be simpler and less stressful.

Here’s how to get ahead of the holidays:

  1. Begin with a budget: A well thought out spending strategy will contribute to the enjoyment of a stress- and debt-free holiday season. Start by reviewing your finances and determining how much you actually can afford to spend.

Address everything holiday-related in your budget, including gifts, entertainment, food, greeting cards and anything else you might need. Be honest with yourself, as this budget will be carrying you into the New Year.

  1. Formulate a gift list: Create a list of everyone to whom you plan to give a present and compare it with the budget you set. Set a spending limit for each individual on your list and make cuts if your budget cannot support it. Jot down a few gift ideas for each recipient and run them against your budget before you begin shopping.
  2. Reassess your budget regularly: From week to week, keep an eye on your holiday spending. Is it in sync with your budget? How much money remains? Are you currently on track, or in danger of overspending?

You may need to tweak your budget as you go, which, by the way, is completely normal. However, instead of increasing the amount of money in your budget, simply shift priorities as necessary.

  1. Get shopping underway: The earlier you shop, the more time you’ll have to find the best budget-friendly gifts. This will allow you the time to search for sales and bargains. If you want the most positive holiday shopping experience, be ready to shop around online and in person, compare prices and use coupons whenever possible.
  2. Plan your party ahead of time: A great deal of planning is required for holiday get-togethers. Start early and review your plans often to ensure that everything falls smoothly into place. Create a budget and a step-by-step guide for the occasion. Most importantly, be sure to ask for help when you need it.

When it comes to the holiday season, planning and preparation can go a long way. Your early efforts will make December a lot more fun. There’s no reason to get overwhelmed with the holiday planning process by waiting until the last moment.

So, avoid procrastination. Your efforts now will result in a more stress-free, budget-friendly holiday season. It’s simply the best way to ensure that you can enjoy a leisurely, memorable time with your family and friends.