One thing unites many Americans: They hate the fact that the holiday shopping season starts so darn early.
Consider it a Christmas miracle: About 75 percent of Americans said they were “annoyed” that the holiday shopping season seems to keep getting earlier and earlier, according to a recent poll from CreditCards.com.
We may all hate how early the holiday shopping season starts, and we may look down our noses at those overachievers who finish by Thanksgiving, but getting an early start on your holiday shopping is a smart move.
Here are some reasons to start your holiday shopping early.
- More time to shop around. For many Americans, holiday shopping is a mad scramble to find something – anything – your friend or loved one would like for the holidays. The closer you get to the holidays, the madder the scramble.
Get started early, though, and you decrease the pressure. You can take the time to comparison shop at different websites and brick-and-mortar stores. That not only gives you more options of what to buy, it can also save you real money.
- Time to take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses. It’s the best time to look for sign-up bonuses. Whether you prefer cash back, airline miles or rewards points, you can find lucrative offers from any number of credit card issuers. And if you plan ahead, you can use those sign-up bonuses to save you real money on your holiday shopping.
For example, one credit card company offers you $150 cash back when you spend $500 in the first three months of having the card. Many Americans will spend $500 or more during the holiday season, and this is an easy way to cut those costs dramatically.
If you’ve already saved up the money you plan to spend this holiday season, that’s even better. Simply get the card and use your saved money to pay off your credit card bill. That way, you can collect the $150 bonus and kill off that balance immediately. Then, since there’s no annual fee with the card, you can choose to simply stash away the card in a desk somewhere and never use it again.
One thing to remember: Get the card sooner rather than later. It can take a couple of weeks to get the card after you apply, so don’t wait, or most of the holiday season could vanish before you get the card.
- Price protection. Some holiday shoppers suffer from a severe case of FOMO – fear of missing out. They feel that if they finish shopping too early, they won’t get to take advantage of the best deals that stores have to offer. It’s understandable, since those Black Fridaydeals can be really hard to beat. However, the truth is that if you play your cards right, you don’t have to worry about missing out on those deals, even if you buy early.
Many major credit cards come with price protection. It’s a valuable-but-underused service that allows people to get part of an item’s purchase price refunded to them if the cost of that item drops in the weeks after they buy it. It can involve a good amount of paperwork and several hoops to jump through, but it can be worth your time.
- It’s easier on your budget. So many of us simply get overwhelmed during the holidays by an avalanche of simultaneous purchases. If you live paycheck to paycheck, all of this spending is just too much. Of course, you can help yourself by saving throughout the year, but that’s not easy either.
Starting your holiday shopping earlier spreads out the burden of paying those holiday debts. It’s far easier to pay for those extra holiday purchases if you do so over four or five paychecks than if you do it all at once.
The bottom line. As much as we dislike those overachievers who have all of their gifts bought and wrapped by Thanksgiving, we must also admit that they’re onto something. They get to enjoy the bulk of the holiday season without the pressure of making lists, going from store to store and spending hours searching online shops. They can even save a bunch of money in the process.
The good news, however, is that you can do all of that, too. You just have to get started.