Ho, Ho, Hot – Budgeting for the Holidays During the Summer

It’s hot, hazy, and humid. Sweat drips from your body, and your glasses steam up three seconds after you step from an air conditioned location. Bread dough you place out in the sun bakes to perfection in a matter of minutes. In other words, it’s summer – the best time to plan for the winter holidays. Regardless if you celebrate Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah, or Festivus, getting a jump on holiday spending helps avoid the hair-pulling and heart attacks normally associated with the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Here are some things to do right now to make your wintertime happy and less expensive.

Take Holiday Inventory

Yes, your attic isn’t the most pleasant place to be at this time of year, but a trip to this part of the house in order to pull out your holiday decorations can be a plus. Test out lights and check for loose parts to determine what stays and what gets removed. Keep a written inventory of the items you’ll need to replenish your stock. Come November 1, when stores replace Halloween candy with light up Santas, you’ll be ready to catch all the deals.

By the way, don’t immediately throw those damaged decorations in the trash – sell them on Craigslist or eBay if minor repairs are needed. And while you’re logged in to those virtual garage sale sites, check around your house for any of last year’s gifts. Items that don’t fit or aren’t needed in your can bring in extra cash for this season.

Ask Around

Don’t let embarrassment get in the way of discovering what your friends and family want in the form of gifts. Sometimes you don’t even have to ask a direct question. Just listening to them talk about their wishes or observing how they act when they see an item at the store can help guide you in the right direction. In addition, see if they’re looking for a service rather than a material product. It may be something you can provide for little or no cost.

Buy Now, Make Now

Sales aren’t saved for Christmas. One store or another is always selling something at a discount. And when seasons change, the sales deepen. Take advantage of these events to stock up early on holiday gifts and store them in an area where curious eyes and hands can’t reach. Not able to pay for these items up front? Ask the store if they have a layaway plan where you pay a small amount each month or week until the holiday season kicks off.

Making instead of buying? Don’t wait for the last minute to make all those sweaters and scarves for your friends, buy the materials now and start work on them while sitting near the pool. It may not save you a lot of money, but it will maintain your sanity when your gifts are completed months before you give them out.

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