Because I like to worry about things way, way, waaaay in advance (ask me about retirement), I've started thinking about Christmas shopping. You know, in the manner of Totally Normal People.
It's not just because of Christmas--from October through December I've also got GH's birthday, the Tiny Dark Lord's birthday, and both my parents' birthdays. And I will be having a baby somewhere in the beginning of all that. So, you know, it helps me to think Preparedness-type thoughts.
I've already created my Christmas 2013 Budget on Google Drive. (Yes, I live by Google Drive spreadsheets. I've (mostly) stopped adding the words " . . . of Destiny" to the end of every document's title, but in my mind it's still there.) I write out my budget for gifts, decorations & tree, Sub for Santa, etc., and then I keep track of what I actually spend on those things (read: always more than the budgeted amount). It's also a good place to keep a list of gift ideas where no one will accidentally come across it. Since January I've had a small amount each month going automatically into an online "Christmas" savings account, so there is designated money to spend when I find great deals.
But how does one find these great deals, you ask? Yeah, that's where I'd like to be more on top of things & would love to hear your thoughts. I follow Freebies2Deals, which is really good. And I just discovered this thing that probably everyone else already knew about--did you know there are sites that will track items on Amazon for you and alert you when the prices drop? This is genius stuff!
I just scored a birthday gift for GH that way. I went to The Tracktor and entered in the item I was thinking about. It showed me the current price but also displayed the pricing history, which is how I realized that the current low price was, in fact, the lowest (by a lot) that it's ever been. So I grabbed it. Now I don't have to kick myself if/when the price goes back up. Yay!! Then I went in and added a bunch of things to be tracked--toys I'm thinking about for the Dark Lord, Blu-rays on GH's wish list, the prenatal vitamins I like but which have been crazy expensive lately, stuff like that. And so far I've already gotten a couple of notifications & have re-ordered my prenatal vitamins. And now my fetus can breath a sigh of relief on behalf of his bones/fat/whatever he's working on. While he's at it he can feel free to stop head-butting me in the bladder. It's kind of rude.
Here's the thing, though. Has anyone else read Unplug the Christmas Machine? It is great and wonderful and thought-provoking and GH hates it because he loves Christmas excess above all things. (See: one reason why my Christmas budget always gets shot as someone gives me puppy dog eyes at the tree lot in front of the 8-foot Noble Firs).
As I've mentioned before, the book points out that the longer the Christmas shopping season lasts, the more people will spend. That's why we now have snowmen going up as soon as stores take down the 4th of July stuff. And that's the problem I have: How do you early shoppers get yourselves to say "when" and stick to it?
Last year I bought things in advance, felt great about being so ahead of the game, but then as Christmas got closer there was so much time left for me to be all, "Oh, except this! This is even better! So-and-so would love this! I will add this to their presents!" This especially happened with the Dark Lord, who ended up with an absolute shload of crap under the tree, which, when combined with stuff from grandparents, etc., turned out to be way, way more than he needed or was even interested in.
So. Not sure what to do about that, except wait to buy until I absolutely know for sure that I've picked a winner. Maybe for TDL I could do one of those "Three Gift" limits, like "Something to wear, something to read, something to play with," etc. And then when the shopping is done I will stop looking at ads or the Internet or go into stores and will just hunker down and eat lots of those awesome sugar cookies I make.
Or maybe this year I'll be so wrapped up in adjusting to the new baby that I'll just buy Amazon gift cards for absolutely everyone and GH can explain to the Dark Lord on Christmas morning that these cards eventually = toys. That sounds like a decent plan, right?