The "good" Black Friday is due November 26 this year, purportedly the busiest shopping day of the season. Many traditional retailers roll out their Christmas sales and set up their Christmas displays to be ready for the influx of shoppers. While this year may or may not live up to retailers' expectations, it's worth preparing for your Christmas shopping right now.

If you are planning on doing everything on the fly, either on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, your chances of overspending will be high.

Battle Plans
If Christmas shopping was a military campaign - and in the heat of holiday shopping the differences are fewer than you'd think - your first step would be to tally up your forces and see if they're sufficient. Decide how much you can afford to spend and then make a list of all the people you exchange gifts with. (Find out how to avoid six of the worst vender ploys this holiday shopping season in Sneaky Strategies That Fuel Overspending.)

If you don't have enough to cover everyone, now's the time to quietly suggest no exchange this year, arrange spending limits or look at an alternative gift that doesn't cost money (ideas abound on the internet). You won't be the only one looking to pare down the gift list, so don't be shy.

Strategy
Once you have a final list, assign a spending limit for each person and stick to it. This is easier than it sounds if you are using cash as opposed to credit. If you are using credit, it might be a good idea to deduct the interest you'll incur paying off the purchases from your spending limits - otherwise you're just cooking your own books.

Tactics
Look thrice, buy once. Although some popular items do sell out every year, being picky and waiting for a good price generally saves you money. This doesn't mean holding out until the 24th, but you can always keep track of prices for items you want online and through flyers. Simply buy the gift when its price is at a level you consider a good deal rather than rushing out when demand is high and paying full price.

Trying to time every purchase can be tedious, but the pay off can be significant if you even manage to shave 5% of your total purchases (with sales of 10%-20% off, 5% overall is achievable). (Use these tips for a bountiful Yuletide on a Scrooge-like budget. Check out Avoid Overspending This Holiday Season.)

Beware Pyrrhic Victories
It's hard to separate financial, shopping and holiday stress when you're rushing from store to store trying to find a last minute gift. This is why some people buy gifts earlier in the year - the stress of shopping for deals in huge crowds cancels out the benefit of financial savings. The people buying early tend to be organized about it and that helps them avoid the impulse purchases that holiday shoppers are notorious for.

If you're willing to put in the work during the rush, however, you can save money - provided you stick to your plan and your spending limits.

Related Articles
  1. Economics

    Is a Recession Coming?

    In the space of a week, the VIX Index, a measure of market volatility, spiked from 13, suggesting extreme complacency, to over 50, evidencing total panic.
  2. Investing

    What’s Holding Back the U.S. Consumer

    Even as job growth has surged and gasoline prices have plunged, U.S. consumers are proving slow to respond and repair their overextended balance sheets.
  3. Economics

    The Problem With Today’s Headline Economic Data

    Headwinds have kept the U.S. growth more moderate than in the past–including leverage levels and an aging population—and the latest GDP revisions prove it.
  4. Investing Basics

    10 Companies That Yuppies Love

    Learn about 10 companies loved by the modern Yuppie, including how this demographic's impressive buying power has boosted these companies' earnings.
  5. Economics

    A Look at Greece’s Messy Fiscal Policy

    Investigate the muddy fiscal policy, tax problems, and inability to institute austerity that created the Greek crises in 2010 and 2015.
  6. Economics

    How Do Asset Bubbles Cause Recessions?

    Understand how asset bubbles often lead to deep, protracted recessions. Read about historical examples of recessions preceded by asset bubbles.
  7. Investing News

    What Shook the U.S. Stock Market Today?

    What was looking as a decent year for US Stock market has suddenly gone off track as the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 531 points in the week ending August 23, 2015.
  8. Investing News

    How 'Honesty' Could Pay off for Jessica Alba

    Is it possible that Jessica Alba is one of the savviest businesswomen on the planet?
  9. Professionals

    Why Investors Should Consider Cash Right Now

    With so many market watchers thinking that the current stock rally is getting long in the tooth, investors might considering upping their cash holdings.
  10. Stock Analysis

    How GM Keeps on Truckin'

    Following a giant bailout and a giant IPO, the new GM is carried by sales of its giant trucks. But is it profitable?
RELATED TERMS
  1. Substitute

    A product or service that a consumer sees as comparable. If prices ...
  2. Fast Fashion

    Definition of "fast fashion."
  3. Duty Free

    Goods that international travelers can purchase without paying ...
  4. The New Deal

    A series of domestic programs designed to help the United States ...
  5. Online-To-Offline Commerce

    A business strategy that draws potential customers from online ...
  6. Chargeback Period

    The timeframe during which a credit card issuer can dispute with ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. How can I invest in electronic retailing (e-tailing)?

    Electronic retail is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. Every year, more people are choosing to purchase ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the difference between JIT (just in time) and CMI (customer managed inventory)?

    Just-in-time (JIT) inventory management focuses solely on the need to replenish inventory only when it is required, reducing ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are some common ways product differentiation is achieved?

    There are many ways to achieve product differentiation, some more common than others. Horizontal Differentiation Horizontal ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

    The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What factors make it difficult to compare performance ratios between retail stocks?

    Companies that operate in the retail sector significantly differ in terms of their profitability and efficiency, making stock ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Which socially responsible retailers appeal most to ethical investors?

    Ethical investors have many reasons to consider companies in the retail sector. The sector is broad and features an abundance ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!