UNITED STATES—I have always been one who would not officially start my Christmas shopping until Black Friday. Trust me I have a million reasons for that decision, and that is best reserved for a column in the coming week or so, where we talk about the importance of mapping out a solid plan for Black Friday for those die-hard shoppers like myself.

However, in 2017, I did something that I haven’t done in nearly 15 years: I kicked off my Christmas shopping months, and I mean months in advance. Is it a great feeling? You bet it is. I have literally about 80 percent of my Christmas shopping complete and the rest I do plan to finish come Black Friday, or what we have now coined as Black Thursday America. So many of us think you get your best deals around Black Friday, but as we near Christmas that is NOT the case America.

For anyone who knows the logistics of Black Friday, you come to realize the same items are on sale year after year; there are some variations, but they are minor to say the least. There are indeed some hot button items that you see at significant discounts as the holidays approach more so than others: especially electronics and toys. For everything else, you see discounts, but nothing as massive. I mean clothing is something that can be purchased year round, and to be honest I have gotten some stellar deals on Xmas gifts in advance.

When it comes to purchasing summer clothes, don’t be afraid to buy them in the winter when they are on clearance and the stores are doing everything in their power to get rid of them, this includes massive discounts. The same applies to winter clothes. It’s wise to purchase such items during the summer months when it’s extremely hot and items like sweaters, coats and fleece are marked at huge discounts to eliminate stock, but to also usher in new items for the fall.

You might hate me for saying this but hear me out. If you can purchase toys right after Christmas wraps, do so. Why? You will see discounts you can’t imagine and I’m not referring to 50 percent, more like 70 to 80 percent. Many of the stores are aiming to eliminate merchandise and clear off the shelves and if you have some extra cash in the savings or on hold, you can purchase toys now and save them for next Christmas. Yeah, it might sound crazy to keep items for that long, but your wallet, your checkbook and your pocket will indeed thank you later.

In addition, you are likely to SAVE so much more money purchasing an item sooner than the 2-3 months or a few weeks before Christmas is upon us. I know so many people, who assume if I save 10, 20, 30 or even 40 percent that is a discount, but I would not agree. I’m a firm believer if you’re not saving at LEAST 50 percent; you are not really getting a bargain. Half-off an item is an exceptional deal if you ask me, and if you can save more than 50 percent than that is even more money for you to spend later down the line people.

One of the biggest tips I have to deliver is not to be afraid to shop at Outlet stores or the Outlet mall. The amount of dollars you can save is gargantuan. I mean how often can you purchase a pair of Levi jeans for under $7? Yes, you heard me $7. There is nothing wrong with these jeans either. They just happen to be slightly out of style according to some, but I was able to knock off several people from my Xmas list with that purchase. Some people tend to think if you purchase an item from an outlet store there is a defect, it’s not, just the style is not as current in the fashion arena, but do we all really care about that.

By starting your Christmas shopping before the official kick-off of the season you eliminate stress. Trust me I know the feeling where you’re out at the stores the day before Christmas frustrated through your teeth trying to figure out the perfect gift for someone who might not appreciate it to begin with. Not a great feeling and its stress that no American deserves. Start early, and trust me you’ll not only be stress free, but you will save a ton of money in the process, leaving more money for you to use for that vacation, college fund, new car, house or some other special item that you have been eyeing, but unable to purchase.