I'm Taking These 3 Steps Now to Prepare for the Holidays -- and You Should, Too

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Do yourself a favor and follow my lead.

Some people don't tend to embrace the holiday season. But I happen to love it. There's just something about gift-giving, celebrating with loved ones, and seeing shining nights adorn neighborhood homes at night that puts me in a better mood. And while I don't tend to spend excessively during the holiday season, it's also not, in my mind, the time to be excessively frugal.

But while I'm clearly a fan of the holidays, I also know how stressful they can be. And year after year, I promise myself to start tackling key holiday tasks ahead of time only to somehow lose track of the weeks and end up scrambling.

Well, not this year. Even though it's only October, I'm already taking these steps to gear up for the holidays. And you may want to do the same to avoid a last-minute crunch.

1. Boosting my savings

The holidays conveniently come at the same time each year, so I always make a point to sock money away for them in advance. But this year, thanks to inflation, the cost of just about everything is up -- way up. And so I expect to run up a much larger credit card tab than usual in the course of gift-giving and celebrating.

That's why I've been pumping extra money into my savings. I figure if I do that, I won't get stuck in a situation where I have to be stingier than I want to be.

2. Writing out a gift list

Every year, the same thing happens -- I purchase gifts and start distributing them, only to realize I've accidentally left someone off of my list. One year, it was my kids' babysitter -- not their main one, but the backup one I still wanted to show some appreciation for. Another year, it was the lunch assistants at my kids' school (though they aren't teachers, they have to wrangle the kids while they're eating, and that's definitely not a job I'd want to have). 

This year, I'm trying to avoid that scenario by making my list ahead of time. Doing so should also help me budget for gifts appropriately. 

3. Snagging early holiday deals

You'd think retailers would start running holiday sales closer to Black Friday. But so far, a number of major retailers have launched major holiday sales in October, and I've done my best to take advantage of them. 

Although I've only purchased a couple of gifts so far, those are gifts I don't have to worry about acquiring later on. Plus, I like the idea of spreading my holiday purchases across a couple of months rather than cramming them into a single month. That way, my credit card bills won't look as scary individually.

Although a lot of people are more focused on Halloween than the winter holidays at this point, it's a good time to start preparing for the latter. Taking these steps in October has already helped me approach my holiday task list more calmly. And if you want to avoid stress, I suggest you follow my lead.

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