Tuesday, November 6, 2007

'Tis the season...

It's that time of year again: stores everywhere are putting up their Christmas decorations. In many cases, this started even before Hallowe'en had come and gone. In downtown Toronto, the Bay already has its animated windows set up, with "seasonal" tableaus in all their animatronic glory.

I'm as much a fan of the Christmas season as the next guy, but it's always a shock just how early the retail season begins. Anyway, with the onset of holiday advertising, what better time to post some tips for enjoying the holidays without breaking the bank?

First off, if you haven't already done so, it's time to start saving for holiday gift shopping. Figure out how much you plan on spending on gifts, and split this amount into chunks that you will save up between now and Christmas. You have exactly seven weeks left between now and the big day, so that's some time to prepare. Ramit at I Will Teach You To Be Rich underlines this point in his post on planning for Christmas:
“But Ramit,” you might say, “It’s already November! I can’t do this now!” This is the Shrug Effect ... Would starting last month have been better? Yes. But starting now is better than not starting at all.
I contribute an amount from every paycheque to the gift compartment in my Freedom Account, and although I started late this year (I only started the account in May), I'm certainly better off than I would be if I were just hoping to have enough to buy gifts.

Grad Money Matters also recommends that you use a credit card for your purchases. The two advantages of doing this are
  • easy record-keeping
  • credit card rewards (cash-back, points, etc.)
Obviously, only follow this particular advice if you are paying your card balance in full every month; paying interest on your purchase would negate either of these benefits.

Finally, for those looking for ideas, Trent at The Simple Dollar posts a list of Consumer Reports' gift recommendations for 2007. It's a great list, and I am personally planning on giving the Canon PowerShot as a gift this year.

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