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This holiday season, 68% of consumers plan to start shopping early, according to UPS fulfillment company Ware2Go. Are you already on board the early holiday shopping train? If not, you might want to get on it.
Whether it's taking advantage of sales, staying out of debt or avoiding supply chain struggles, there are a lot of ways that starting your shopping early can make holiday shopping more affordable. Here are five reasons to start holiday shopping now.
1. Spread Out Gift Costs
It's typically easier on your budget to spread out the cost of a major expense over a longer period of time, and holiday gift shopping is no different. While you could use a sinking fund to save and pay for your gifts over time, you can achieve the same effect by simply buying some of your gifts earlier.
Try this approach to set aside holiday money each paycheck, rather than trying to pay for all your gifts as the holidays near:
- Make a list of people you're shopping for this year, what you plan to buy them (if you know) and how much you plan to spend.
- Divide your total expected budget up by the number of pay periods between now and the holidays.
- Complete your shopping gradually and in bite-sized pieces by making purchases in roughly equal dollar amounts each paycheck.
This can make it easier to absorb holiday gift costs without overspending. By the time the holidays arrive, you'll have all your shopping done—and your budget will still be intact.
2. Avoid Taking on Debt
Waiting until December to make all your holiday purchases can bust your budget and lead you to turn to high-interest credit cards to fund your gift buying. If you don't pay off the balance quickly, you'll add interest charges to your holiday costs, which could derail your budget and financial goals for months to come. You could even find yourself paying for last year's gifts at the same time you're shopping for the current holiday season.
Starting your shopping early and spreading out the purchases into manageable amounts can make it easier to stay out of debt—and avoid hefty interest charges.
Keep in mind that there are some benefits to charging your holiday spending to a credit card—such as earning rewards points or cash back and getting extra purchase protection—but only if you're cautious and go in with a plan. Getting a rewards credit card could actually save you money on your holiday purchases, but only if you're able to pay off the balance before interest accrues.
3. Dodge Gift Shortages
Global supply chain pressures have decreased throughout the second half of 2022, according to the Global Supply Chain Pressure Index from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and are beginning to resemble levels experienced before the pandemic.
What does that mean for shoppers? In a nutshell, getting your gifts probably won't be as hard this year as it was last year. But, it's likely to be a bit dicier than it was just a few years ago. You can make it easier on yourself by leaving plenty of lead time. The alternative could be having your shopping efforts derailed when you're left face-to-face with an out-of-stock message.
4. Take Advantage of Sales
To get holiday gifts at a lower cost, make a plan for what you'll buy ahead of time, then spend a couple months tracking sales. By keeping an eye out, you'll be more likely to find those items at a lower cost. That means spending less money without having to make any sacrifices—a double win. Keep in mind that the further in advance you begin tracking deals, the better chance you'll have at finding something at a major price reduction.
5. Be More Intentional
If you're scrambling to get gifts at the last minute, you might find yourself forced to compromise, opting for convenience over true value. Of course, it's the thought that counts, but the most personal, touching gift may not be the one that comes with free two-day shipping. It may be the one that you find only after meandering downtown for an hour and wandering into a shop that just feels right.
In other words, giving yourself more time to shop leaves room for whimsy, which, in turn, can help you find more meaningful gifts. It can also help you shop more intentionally if you prefer seeking out locally made items and sustainable options.
Get Ahead to Stress Less
Monetary benefits aside, there's another clear reason to start shopping early: You can lessen the burden around the holidays by starting now. The value of removing the anxiety-inducing ordeal of cramming to get your shopping done and gifts wrapped at the last minute is priceless.
Of course, there's something nostalgic about each year's rush to get those last-minute trips to the store for more tape or wrapping paper in. But the more you get out of the way upfront, the less stressed you'll feel—which leaves lots of room for feeling festive, calm and, hopefully, full of holiday spirit. 'Tis (almost) the season.