UNITED STATES—I know it’s a bit early to be talking about this, but we are less than 6 months away from Christmas people! Yes, Christmas is on the horizon and I recently read an article about the importance of money management and planning ahead as the holidays fast approach us. It raises the question, when is too soon to start shopping for Xmas? Well, I would argue if you have the funds to do it why not. However, I will argue that in the past year I have discovered that it’s never too early to start Christmas shopping, but you should plan accordingly.

Some of you might be asking, just exactly what does that mean? You should not just purchase items for the sake of buying them because they are on sale. You should want to purchase an item because it crosses off a person on your Christmas list. That is key people: make a list of people that you have to buy for. This is rare, and something many of us never do. We just have in our minds people that we plan to buy for and that list extends to more and more people as the holiday approaches.

However, the mistake so many of us make is not putting a budget on the gifts that we plan to buy for people. That is extremely smart to do America, but it helps you stay on track to not overspend or go against your budget. Sometimes indicating the item that you would like to purchase, as well as the amount you would like to spend provides a bit more clarity to the situation.

So we have all heard the phrase Christmas in July, and there is indeed a good reason for that. In the past 3-4 months I have discovered there are plenty of times where you can hit the stores and catch some stellar deals. For example, the weekend going into Easter is a great time to pick up a few gifts, you have Mother’s Day, Memorial Day weekend, Father’s Day and the Fourth of July holiday weekend that are all great times to purchase gifts. Why? Many of the retailers know people are going to purchase gifts; I literally got a ton of steals on great deals over the Fourth of July weekend. Items like name brand wallets, belts, watches for more than 50 percent off. So while purchasing Father’s Day gifts, I was able to knock off a few people on my Christmas list at the same time without breaking the budget. That is key people!

Your goal when it comes to Xmas shopping is to do all in your power to stick with a budget and to never go beyond that budget. Yes, trying to purchase the perfect gift can be exhausting, but at the same time I have come to discover, a gift is a gift. There is no need to pull out one’s hair or go into cardiac arrest to try to please someone that quite frankly you question rather it’s even possible to please them to begin with. I mean I stumbled into the toy store and was amazed by the level of deals that were splattered across the store. It immediately popped into my mind: “Man I can get gifts for most of my nieces and nephews and have all of them done in JULY! Why is that great for me? That means less stress as Black Friday and Christmas actually approach.

Here’s a little secret, Black Friday is the perfect opportunity to get those items that you desire people. If you’re buying for everyone else, what is the harm in picking up an item or two for yourself along the way? I mean think about it, you actually deserve it. So for those of you that have a bit of extra cash and you spot a few items that are absolute steals, why not pick them up? 1) You save money 2) You cross off a person on your list.

Every year so many of us wait till the last minute to do our Christmas shopping which ends up resulting in us spending hundreds even thousands of dollars more than we ever anticipated. So for those who might think you’re crazy for starting a bit of early shopping, in the end you’ll get the last laugh.