Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com
Your Target Audience : general, but people who are tired of doing last-minute shopping.
Throughout the piece you should generally be telling people when is a good time to start shopping, when is too soon (products won’t be available) and when is too late
We can define holiday shopping to be “gift shopping” and also “preparing for the holidays” aka buying tickets/planning holiday travel/saving money
Avoid duplicating this: https://www.gobankingrates.com/saving-money/holiday/easy-ways-save-holiday-shopping/ but look to it for inspo!
Intro – why you need to start planning now (in september!) for the holidays
H2. 1. [Move #1]
~75-word blurb explaining it. Is this something to do right away? When is the optimal time?
… etc x 15
Do you tell yourself that you're going to start — and finish — your holiday shopping early each year, only to find yourself fighting off panicked crowds at the mall three days before Christmas? Are you paying for rush shipping on last-minute online orders instead of
getting your gifts shipped for free?
With a little planning at the start of the season, you actually can have a low-stress shopping experience, and avoid overspending, too. Here's what you need to do now — yes, when fall has just begun — to make your December more enjoyable.
Click through to find out all the easy ways you can save for holiday shopping.
©Shutterstock.com The Move: Make a List, Check It TwiceMake a physical list of people you need to buy gifts for right now. Don't keep this information all in your head; you don't want to forget about someone important at the last minute. The physical list — either on a sheet of paper or in a spreadsheet — will help guide you through the holiday season and help you keep tabs on what you have and haven't bought.
How does your list compare to the national average? In 2017, the average number of holiday gifts expected to be purchased by U.S. consumers was 14.7 gifts.
Reminder: Here's Why Holiday Shopping at the Last Minute Is a Bad Idea
ilbusca / Getty Images/iStockphoto The Savings Tip: Don't Overdo ItThe holidays are a time of giving and thanks. Showing people your gratitude through gift giving is a nice gesture, but it's rarely expected. Don't try to buy everyone at the office a gift plus all 10 of your nieces and nephews. Instead, be realistic when making your list and only give what you can truly afford. Follow this gift-giving guide for acquaintances for help.
David Sacks / Getty Images The Move: Make a BudgetMaking a budget is imperative to the success of your timely holiday shopping. Track your spending to ensure you're not overspending. If you haven't made a budget to follow before, use a budget template to get started.
iStock.com / iStock.com The Savings Tip: Space It OutThe average American spent an estimated $430 on holiday gift buying in 2017, according to a Deloitte holiday survey. Can you afford to spend $430 at once a few days before Christmas? Or would you rather spend that money in increments over the next three months?
Try this easy equation for your budget now: If you plan on spending $430 on 15 presents, think about how much you'll need to save each week between now and Christmas. Putting aside $36 a week is so much easier. Better yet — keep the money in a special savings account so it's not accessible for everyday use.
Zinkevych / Getty Images/iStockphoto The Move: Remember Shipping DeadlinesWrite down holiday shipping deadlines as soon as possible. Planning this step now will help you set up the perfect shopping game plan.
Tuesday, Dec. 18: UPS 3 Day Select packages picked up on this day will be scheduled for delivery on Christmas Eve.
Friday, Dec. 21: The last day customers can ship UPS Next Day Air packages for delivery on Christmas Eve. FedEx:
Monday, Dec. 17: Last day to ship FedEx Home Delivery packages for Christmas Day delivery.
Tuesday, Dec. 25: You can ship on Christmas morning using FedEx's SameDay, SameDay City Priority or SameDay City Standard shipping options. Amazon:
The online retail giant has not yet posted its holiday shipping deadlines for 2018. Last year it did offer same-day delivery if you made a purchase of at least $35 before 9:30 a.m. on Christmas Eve.
USPS: In 2017, the Postal Service estimated that if you wanted your packages delivered by Dec. 24 then you needed to send out first-class mail the Friday before Christmas.
asiseeit / Getty Images The Savings Tip: Be Mindful of Shipping RatesSteep shipping prices can be avoided if your gifts are shipped at least a week before Christmas.
Don't get suckered in by the attractive 80-percent-off online sales that fill your timelines on Dec. 23, especially if it means having to pay through the nose for one- or two-day delivery. Instead, build shipping costs into your budget, and don't procrastinate.
In Case You Need It: Best Delivery Services for Last-Minute Christmas Gifts
martin-dm / Getty Images The Move: Start Shopping NowRetailers are starting their holiday sales earlier and earlier in the season — just make sure you don't fall for deals that aren't worth it. Take advantage of the extra time and sales and get your Christmas shopping done early.
According to the National Retail Federation, only 12 percent of consumers had finished their holiday shopping by Dec. 12, which left 126 million people shopping on Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas. Don't put yourself at the mercy of the relentless Super Saturday shoppers as you all vie for scraps.
Csondy / Getty Images The Savings Tip: Think Off-SeasonBuy out-of-season items to save money and get ahead of the shopping curve. October is a great time to buy summer clothes, bathing suits, outdoor furniture and last year's iPhone models since the new models were just announced.
AleksandarGeorgiev / Getty Images The Move: Ask People What They Really WantSave money and time by skipping the guessing game. Sure, you might be able to recall that one thing your cousin mentioned she wanted back in January, but your guesses might be off, and that's a waste for everybody. Instead, just be upfront with those closest to you and ask what's on their wish lists.
Related: Why I Don't Let Santa Spoil My Kids
damircudic / Getty Images The Savings Tip: Do a Quick Price ComparisonWith your master list of names and the gifts they really want in hand, start some online research and price checking. Be mindful of falling victim to buyer's fatigue by checking every coupon book, savings app, online store and promotional email to find the best deals. Do a quick search of the item you are looking for and then click on the shopping tab to compare prices with ease.
Eva-Katalin / Getty Images The Move: Don't Wait For the Best DealsInaction now will lead to stress later. With a limited budget, the temptation is to always look for the very best deal. Remember, however, that the best deals might not pop up until the very last minute, giving you no time to ship items or relax and enjoy the holiday season. Part of being a successful holiday shopper is acknowledging trade-offs. With the right mindset and strategy in place, you'll be able to afford everything you want this holiday season.
Geber86 / Getty Images The Savings Tip: Full Price Might Be the Right PriceStick to your budget — if it gives you permission to pay full price for a gift then, by all means, do it. Proper budgeting can help you achieve the life you want.
filadendron / Getty Images The Move: Be LazyAvoid any stress that usually comes with Christmas shopping and just buy everyone on your list a gift card. Don't think of your gift card as a cop out, though. Gift cards can be purchased at variable amounts, allowing you to easily stay within your budget. Plus, you can still be creative with gift card presents. They can be purchased online from almost any retailer, even small boutiques. Shop from home at any time of day and introduce someone to your favorite shop or restaurant.
Related: These 15 Restaurants Give Away Gift Card Freebies
ymgerman / Shutterstock.com The Savings Tip: Buy Discounted CardsCostco sells gift cards at a 20 to 30 percent discount. For example, you can purchase four $15 Krispy Kreme gift cards for $44.99. That's a 25 percent discount. Other great places to buy discounted gift cards are sites like eBates, Raise and GiftCards.com.
Get Some: The Best Gift Cards to Buy This Holiday Season
Milkos / Getty Images/iStockphoto Your Game PlanTo recap: Make a budget and a list of who you need to buy for. Ask people what they really want. Start shopping now and don't always wait for the best deals. Always remember shipping deadlines and when in doubt, be lazy and buy gift cards.
It's never too early to start making your holiday game plan, but now is really the time to begin in earnest. Open your notepad app on your phone and get started. Just imagine how nice it will feel spending those frosty holidays snuggled up at home with family instead of driving to crowded malls and overspending on expedited shipping.
Don't Miss: 48% of Americans Make This Costly Mistake When Holiday Shopping -- Do You?
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