Christmas in July
by Tonya Mason Branch
The phrase “Christmas in July” was earliest known in an 1882 opera, where the children would rehearse a Christmas song in July, leading another character in the opera to respond, "When you sing Christmas in July, you rush the season.” This same phrase gained national attention in 1940 with the release of the movie comedy, Christmas in July, in which a man believes he won a $25,000 prize and purchases gifts for his family and friends. Today’s use of the phrase is more of a marketing tool. Most retailers use it to sell off inventory and make room for new inventory.
Christmas in July is also an indicator that the Christmas holiday is just five months away, and it is used as a good gauge for setting and maintaining a holiday budget.
Here are some simple tips to assist in maintaining a holiday budget that works for you.
- Use debit instead of credit—debit cards force you to limit your spending to exactly what you have and allows you to avoid paying interest. When out holiday shopping, leave the credit cards at home.
- Know your budget and make it a non-negotiable ($20 means $20, not $25).
- Don’t get department store credit cards—a lot of department stores will offer 10% to 15% discounts if you apply for these cards before and during the holiday season, but the savings will vanish if you do not pay off the entire balance in full.
- Make a list—make a detailed list of whom to buy for and what you want to spend on each person. This keeps your shopping and spending focused.
- Pre-shop—do some homework. Check sale ads, then get online and compare prices. Also, try to consolidate stores into fewer trips or one trip to save on gas, time, and hassle.
- Invest instead of buying gifts—for children this could be the start of a wonderful tradition and teaches them to save.
- Pick a card, instead of paper gift certificates, and give prepaid gift cards. Most financial institutions offer cards that you can load with funds allowing the recipient to use this card as a debit/credit card. Be wary of credit cards that are sold in stores with predetermined amounts. These cards sometime have purchaser fees ($25 card + 5.95 purchaser fee).
- Browse the internet instead of the racks. Some retailers offer online-only discounts and sales.
- Take advantage of free gift wrap. Store offers free gift wrap, if so,take advantage, as gift wrap and bows are expensive. This saves you the expense of wrapping paper, and you can put those savings toward another gift.
- Beware of the gift receipts—retailers that offer you to get a receipt that does not show the recipient what you actually paid for their gift. When the recipient attempts to return the gift with the gift receipt, they are not given the full value of what you paid. Be bold enough to ask for a full receipt for the items you purchased, allowing you or the recipient to receive full value and not just store credit should an item need to be returned.