Christmas may be months away, but summer can be a great time of year to nab some extra time to plan ahead. Work has slowed down, schools are closed and most people have a little extra time in their schedules. Little things, such as checking your address list for changes so you won't be panicked when you can't remember Uncle Bob's new address, can make a surprisingly big difference later. Another bonus to planning ahead? Money savings. These days, most of us are looking for ways to save a few bucks, so if you start crafting your gift list, you can pick up items that might be on sale. Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore, getbuttonedup.com
Sarah: Money is tighter this year, so I want to try to plan my gifts well in advance so I can grab them when I see them on sale. I tend to travel more in the summer, too, so I'm planning to stop by all the local boutiques to see if I can find something special for those on my gift list. It can be festive running around during the Christmas rush, but I definitely end up spending more money on last-minute gifts.
Alicia: I am a total lunatic at the holiday season. I am that person running to the stores at midnight, and I tend to thrive on that pace, but last year I happened to get a few things done ahead of time. I ended up slowing down and really enjoying the season so much more.
Here are a few things to consider even if your thoughts drift more toward sand castles than gingerbread houses:
Plan your travel. Book your travel in advance. You can save a lot of money (and headaches) by booking your airline tickets, hotel reservations and car rentals now.
Make your list. Next time you're at the beach, bring a pen and paper and jot down your gift list. Think about conversations you've had recently with the people on your list and you'll likely come up with a gift idea or three for each. Then, the next time you're out and see something perfect, and better yet, it's on sale, you don't need to wait. Go to www.getbuttonedup.com/tools for some free downloadable forms designed to help you stay on top of holiday gift-giving.
Off-season sales. You know that cute Christmas or holiday shop that you drive by? It's probably having a sale this summer. Stop in and see what you can pick up. You'll be ready when the season approaches, and you'll feel even better knowing you snagged everything on sale.