UNITED STATES—If you think this column is about getting great deals in the month of July that is not the case. This column is more so to deliver a reality check that Christmas is indeed less than 6 months away. In fact, it’s much closer than you think and now is the time to start thinking about saving for the festive holiday that tends to break the banks for many people. So many of us turn to utilizing plastic or credit as most of us know it, than to utilize cash.

Yes, I totally agree, that cash is a much better option than credit. Why? Before you know it you’ve accumulated so much debt, you’re wondering what you can do to knock it down. Cash people, cash is the option! Start putting a bit of funds away every pay period starting now, that way when Christmas rolls around, you’re not scrambling or stressing about how you plan to purchase gifts for your loved ones.

Look I’m a lover of Christmas just as much as any other person out there. Sometimes I tend to go a bit overboard, and I’ve decided in 2016 that I’m not going to overdo it. It’s okay to purchase gifts, but there is no need for me to stress out or feel that I have to buy this MANY gifts to feel satisfied with myself. The biggest mistake so many of us make, is not making a list of all the individuals we plan to buy gifts for and put a limit on those gifts.

Point the finger at me because I’m guilty of it. How so? I just know who I plan to buy for, but I never put a price limit on who I’m buying for. That is a major mistake. Why? It leaves you purchasing way more than you need to, in addition, to overbuying and sometimes having a ton of gifts that you have no idea who you plan to give to. Once you put a limit, make it a goal to not go beyond that limit, because there is no reason to do so. Remember, it’s not the price of the gift that matters; it’s the thought behind the gift that matters most.

I’ve actually started to pick up a few things for Christmas already, which has always been something I’ve stayed away from. Why? I’ve always been a firm believer that it’s best to shop for gifts on Black Friday and heading into the month of December, instead of buying gifts 3-4 months in advance. Well, that isn’t quite the case people. You’re actually going to find a TON of deals on some nifty gifts right now, especially toys which might surprise quite a few people. The same actually applies for buying winter clothing. There are plenty of retail chains that have excellent deals on blue jeans, winter jackets, sweaters, fleece and all other items to keep oneself warm during those chilly months.

Hey, I’m not saying break the bank right now to do all of your Christmas shopping. I’m simply advocating that if you happen to have a few extra dollars and want to get a jump start on those Xmas gifts there is no better time than the present. Keep receipts, always keep your receipts, and never toss them. Why?

It’s always a good idea to have a gauge of how much money you spent, and there are some retailers that allow exchanges or refunds up to 90 days. Yep, that means you could have till mid-October or early November to get a price adjustment on an item you bought if the price goes even lower than what you initially paid. Christmas may not be here just yet, but by the time you blink you’ll be saying what happened to summer?