Most people wait until the Black Friday sales to start their holiday shopping, but there are many good reasons to do your shopping throughout the year. Avoiding last minute procrastination has many payoffs. Here are some of the benefits of doing your shopping throughout the year rather than waiting for December.

Avoid Last Minute Price Gouging

While there are some big holiday deals to be found in December, businesses are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts. Big box retailers offer rock bottom prices on cheap items like BlueRay movies, and try to hook you in to buy expensive items like a new TV or BlueRay player.

Some stores take it a step further and might even ratchet up prices during the busiest retail season of the year. Don’t get caught in the traps by waiting for the last minute.

Avoid the Long Lines

I once visited a Best Buy store on Black Friday and got a whole load of goodies from the bargain bin – while skipping the more expensive items mentioned above. But when I got to the checkout line, it wrapped half way around the store!

Add on parking going in and out of large shopping centers to checkout lines, and a quick trip to the store can take hours to complete. Save yourself the time and hassles of the crowds by buying online and going to the store during off-peak seasons.

More Time for Thoughtful Gifts

If you wait for the last minute, your gifts may end up being less thoughtful than you had originally intended. Maybe the gift you wanted to give was sold out, maybe it was more expensive than your gift budget, maybe you just didn’t have the time to come up with something really special, and got stuck with something more generic.

If you plan your give giving out during the summer and fall months, or even get a really early start in the winter or spring, you have time to come up with the best, most thoughtful, and most meaningful gifts.

If you do wait until the last minute, there is always the bacon of the month club.

Gifts Don’t Have to Be Expensive

Think of the very best gifts you’ve ever received in your life. Some of them may have been expensive, but many of them took more thought than money. Paying attention to the little clues family and friends give you in conversation may lead you to some amazing gifts at a low cost.

Some of the best, least expensive gifts I’ve ever received include:

  • Travel shaving kit for a double edge safety razor (under $50)
  • Round ice cube molds for whiskey (about $10)
  • A travel podcasting microphone to record on the road (about $25)
  • Home industrial deep fryer (about $40)

These were not gifts from far flung acquaintances, they were from close friends and family who knew that while I certainly do love the latest fancy electronic gizmo, I also wanted these items and would use them and enjoy them. I was thrilled to get them, and wouldn’t have bought them myself. They were all excellent gifts.

Don’t Forget About Experience Gifts

Remember that some gifts don’t come in the form of a physical item. They can come in the form of concert tickets (one for you, one for your friend or relative), a trip, a dinner for two at a swanky new restaurant, cooking a meal to have at your place – or theirs, just remember to do the dishes, or any other of an infinite combination of fun ideas.

Memories are often much more valuable than physical presents, and no one can ever take a memory away.

Procrastination Leads to Bad Gifts

Unless you have a special talent, few last minute gifts will leave a big impression. Get an early start on your gift planning and purchasing to save money, save time, and give the best gifts that will leave a lasting imprint on your friends and family.

Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel, and technology writer originally from Denver, Colorado living in Ventura, California. When away from the keyboard, Eric he enjoys exploring the world, flying small airplanes, discovering new craft beers, and spending time with his wife and baby girl. You can connect with him at his own finance blog Personal Profitability.

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