If you haven’t already put together your holiday shopping list, now is the time to get started. I know that it’s not even Halloween, and you might be annoyed that stores already have the Christmas decorations up, but now is a good time to take stock of what you need for the holiday season, make a list and get started.

Starting now gives you a chance to be more organized, as well as save money.

1. Ease the Strain on Your Budget

Starting now can ease the strain on your budget over the course of the next few months. Create a list of gifts you plan to buy. Now you know how much you need. You can either start setting aside money now, or you can start buying now. In either case, you are preparing your budget a little bit at a time. That way, instead of having a huge impact on your budget come December 1, your budget is ready to absorb the beating it’s about to take.

Buying a little at a time, ahead of the holidays can be a big help, since you are spreading out the impact. One way you can employ this strategy is to make use of layaway. Layaway has been making a major comeback in recent years, thanks to the recent recession. Claim the items on your list, and then pay them off over time. It’s much more manageable than trying to pay for everything at once.

2. Take Advantage of Sales

The earlier you make your list, the more likely you are to be able to take advantage of sales throughout the year. Make a list of everyone you plan to buy gifts for, and jot down ideas for what you want to purchase. When you see the sales fliers, or go out to run errands, watch for the items on your list. When you see that they are on sale, scoop them up at a discount. Knowing what you are looking for, and being ready when it is on sale, can help you save money on your holiday expenses this year.

3. Early Shopping = Less Stress

The earlier you shop, the less stress you have later. Put together your list now, and you have more time to get everything done. From buying decorations to preparing for a family Christmas party, you can get more done if you break down your tasks. Put together a plan for doing something Christmas-related every couple of weeks (or more frequently as December approaches).

As you tackle your tasks now, you will be less stressed later, and less anxious about whether or not you will have everything done. This is especially true when it comes to buying gifts. Leave yourself plenty of time to buy gifts, as well as have them shipped (when necessary). It’s all about reducing stress.

Planning ahead can mean that you have everything done well in advance of Christmas, and save a little bit of money on top of it. That’s a great feeling, and it means that you have more time to enjoy the season, rather than worrying the whole time.

Tom Drake

Tom Drake

Tom Drake writes for Financial Highway and MapleMoney. Whenever he’s not working on his online endeavors, he’s either doing his “real job” as a financial analyst or spending time with his two boys.