Over the past few years, a growing number of retailers have started their holiday marketing plans earlier than ever.
Long-gone are the days when November and December were the only times you’d see big in-store sales, promotions or TV commercials tied to Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Nowadays, the run-up to the holiday season starts around September.
For consumers, the danger of all this early holiday marketing is that you may tend to lose track of your spending, and do a little too much shopping and making merry.
But what if there were good reasons to think about the holidays sooner, rather than later in the year?
Actually, there are at least 3 good reasons to think about the December holidays in July.
1) You can save money by better planning your shopping and gift-gifting
Admit it: how many times have you ran into a crowded store or a congested mall in late December, or maybe even on Christmas eve, looking for that perfect gift – or any gift at all – for someone? Most of us have been there.
Although last-minute sales do exist, you’re often better off making your gift purchases well in advance when you have time to carefully consider your budget, plan out your spending, and do some comparison shopping without being under the gun because the holidays are upon you.
Super savvy shoppers go so far as to map out what items they’ll be getting for whom, and then nabbing those goods when they’re at their lowest price. Case in point: that sweater for your sister will be cheaper in July or August than it will be in November or December as winter approaches.
Another benefit of planning out your purchases prior to the December holiday crush is that you’ll probably be more practical and less impulsive and reactionary in your spending.
Think about it this way: when you’re in the stores in December, you’ll have to guard yourself (financially and emotionally) against getting swept away by all the holiday music, the decorations, the nice smells and the festivities that are plentiful at year end.
So doing your shopping in July, or at least planning your holiday shopping well in advance, will cause you to be less tempted to splurge on things just because you’re caught up in the holiday spirit.
2) You can avoid debt by setting aside money for your holiday purchases
Another smart reason you should consider the holidays in July is that you can use the summer months as your starting point to save money or set aside cash toward your holiday plans – whether those plans involve gift-giving, travel, or throwing a holiday get-together.
Instead of waiting until the last minute, and possibly racking up unnecessary holiday debt in December because you hadn’t saved money in advance, why not start putting aside some extra funds for the holidays now?
In early 2015, CompareCards surveyed more than 6,000 consumers about their spending habits during the 2014 holiday season. The survey results revealed that the average consumer spends about $650 during the holidays on travel, gifts and entertainment. Also, 65% of those polled incurred credit card debt, with 18 percent incurring more than $500 in debt, and 17 percent amassing more than $1,000.
The clock is ticking away and many of us know we’re going to spend the money anyway. So don’t create extra pressure on yourself, and potentially go into debt, by doing all your spending in November and December.
Instead, if you can sock away money for your holiday spending starting in July, you’d have six-month’s worth of savings for shopping and other holiday expenses.
For those who are making their holiday purchases in advance, getting a jump on things in July (or even August) gives you the opportunity to make payments on merchandise, or put items away on layaway, if you choose.
(Related: 8 Questions to Ask Before Using Layaway for Holiday Shopping)
In both instances, you pay a little at a time, without the additional stress of making large expenditures all at once near the end of the year.
3) You can be more thoughtful with gift-giving
A final advantage of thinking about the December holidays in July is that, with some foresight, you may choose not to spend any money at all, or you may opt to create unique, thoughtful gifts for your loved ones that are priceless.
A collage of family photos mainly just requires your time, effort and love to put it together. Likewise, a handwritten, but meaningful letter to your grandmother telling her what she’s meant in your life would likely turn into a treasured keepsake that she’d cherish forever.
But gifts like the ones mentioned above are hard to pull off if you wait until the last minute and try to squeeze them in during the mad bustle of activities in December.
It’s far better to give yourself the time and space to create handmade, custom or personalized gifts well in advance.
(Related: 5 Reasons Not to Spend Any Money on Gifts this Holiday)
As you can see, there are some good reasons to think about the December holidays in July – especially when it comes to saving money, avoiding debt, and creating holiday memories that will last a lifetime.