We’re about to enter the most expensive time of the year, between holiday gifts, party food and decorations, vacations, office Secret Santas, and other expenses that tend to crop up around the holidays. It’s no wonder people tend to stress out in the months of November and December. Luckily, there’s no need to go into debt so you can enjoy the holidays. With a bit of advanced planning and some savvy shopping strategies, you’ll be sufficiently prepared for the extra expenses. Here are a few ways you can shop smarter for the holiday season.

1. Save in Advance

Saving money throughout the entire year for holiday expenses is a great way to make sure you’re not overwhelmed financially in November and December. There are different saving methods you can use, including creating a separate savings account, taking out cash and putting it into labeled envelopes, or using a spreadsheet to divide up your savings money into different categories. You can decide what percentage of your monthly income you want to designate towards holiday expenses, taking into consideration how expensive you anticipate the holiday months to be. Just make sure you don’t let your holiday savings eat into your regular monthly expenses like your mortgage, utilities, and food budgets. Saving up may be too late for this year, but you can already get started with this strategy for next year!

2. Shop Early

How early should you start shopping for the holidays? You can start as soon as the day after Christmas! As soon as holiday merchandise heads to the clearance rack, you can score some heavily discounted finds for next year. Between decorations, gifts, and holiday-themed clothing (and pajamas!), you can build on your holiday collection without paying close to full price. You may have to spend a bit more time searching online for these items, but the savings could be worth it.

Additionally, you can take advantage of sales throughout the year to buy gifts for the people on your list so you’re not left with a huge amount to buy at the end of the year. Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and other legal holidays all include sales that are often just as good as Black Friday discounts, so you don’t have to feel like you are not getting the best sale if you don’t wait for the Friday after Thanksgiving.

3. Sign Up for Emails and Text Messages

If you know there’s a particular store or brand you want to purchase from, sign up for their emails and texts. There are often exclusive savings on top of their regular sales for their email and text members. It may clog up your inbox and your phone, but you can always unsubscribe if you don’t find it useful or after you purchase whatever you had your eye on. Plus, you may decide the extra messages in your inbox are worth the savings you get from them.

4. Make a List (and Check it Twice!)

Don’t shop willy-nilly. Make a list of who you want to purchase gifts for and how many gifts per person you want to buy, or how much you want to spend on each person. This will help you shop smarter for the holidays and avoid overbuying. If you do find that you overbought, don’t just give extra gifts for no reason. Consider them advanced shopping for something else! Put them away to use for birthday presents or another occasion, so you can save money later, even if you overspent now.

Shop Smarter for the Holidays With Our Help!

Financial planning is beneficial for everyone. If you need help managing your finances, we can help you both save and spend smarter so you can maintain a healthy bank account and stay ready for whatever financial situation life throws your way. At DeSantis, Kiefer, Shall & Sarcone, we’re happy to help you shop smarter for the holidays and tackle all your other financial planning needs!