I Completed All of My Holiday Shopping Before December (Without Having a Single Freak-Out)—Here’s How I Did It

I have been a procrastinator for as long as I've been old enough to have deadlines. And when it comes to holiday shopping (despite my deep, Buddy the Elf-like love for the season), my wait-until-the-last-minute tendencies persist—which, with rush shipping and no time for deal-hunting, has not been kind to my budget.

This year, I decided to do things differently. In an effort to really enjoy the holidays without scrambling for last-minute gifts or having my bank account take a big hit, I resolved to get my gift haul squared away before the season kicked into gear.

With holiday mode in full swing once November hit, I set out on my anti-procrastination mission. My sidekick in the endeavor? Eno, my Capital One assistant, who helped me stay on top of my spending and looked out for my accounts 24/7. Because let's be honest, thinking about finances around the holidays is enough to make anyone want to bury themselves in wrapping paper to avoid the shopping rush. Still just me?

Keep reading for holiday shopping tips for keeping your stress levels low and your finances on track.

Take inventory of your finances

Step one of my take-action plan was figuring out what my financial situation looked like. Luckily, I'm never super in the dark about what's going on with my money since as a Capital One customer, I have Eno. Eno helps me manage my finances year-round with proactive alerts and useful account insights for things like a possible double charge or when a credit has posted from a return I made—letting me stay on top of my accounts everywhere I go.

Even so, it was helpful to sit down with my budget and come up with a grand total I could dedicate to gifts, rather than using the ole close-my-eyes-and-swipe trick and spending the whole season worrying about my account balance.

Another feature that helped me keep an eye on my spending was Eno's proactive alerts when certain free trials for online subscriptions I had signed up for were about to end. Instead of forgetting about them (like I usually do), I was able to cancel before they renewed, and use the extra cash I saved to buy crystals for my co-workers (spoiler alert for anyone reading this).

Make a list, and check... yourself

Once I knew the amount I had to work with, I figured out how far I needed to make it stretch. Making lists is my jam (they're always my lifeline for feeling organized in stressful situations), so I wrote out a tally, Santa-style, of everyone I wanted to buy gifts for, my ideas for each gift, and its estimated cost.

I read somewhere that procrastination is often born out of perfectionism (putting so much pressure on yourself to do a task perfectly makes it seem more daunting to tackle), and that rings true for my typical holiday shopping strategy. I'd want so badly to find everyone that just-right thing that would show them how much I care, that I would usually end up pushing off my brainstorming session until the last minute.

This year, I decided to take the pressure off myself by keeping my eyes open earlier for small gifts that made me think of the people on my list in the moment, rather than hyping up the gift in my mind. The result? More thoughtful gifts and a lot less worrying.

And, while I was out and about, I could just text Eno a money emoji (or the entire word "balance" if I was feeling formal) to make sure I wasn't spending more than I had committed to. Mindful, informed shopping FTW.

Shop sales

Days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are obviously your friends if you're trying to knock out your holiday shopping early and cheaply (I took advantage of both), but there are plenty of deals to be had throughout December as well.

Since the last time I entered a physical store on Black Friday was during a family trip to New York City when I was 8 years old (10 out of 10 would not recommend), I've done all of my post-Thanksgiving shopping online.

And Eno made my crowd-free shopping experience even easier with the virtual card numbers feature, so I could shop safely online and better protect my account from any suspicious activity (which would have really put a damper on my proactive shopping plans). I just added Eno to my browser, and at each checkout Eno appeared with a unique number for whichever site I was shopping on, so I didn't have to expose my actual credit card number—or get off the couch to my find my wallet.

Putting the finishing touches on my shopping in the first few days of December allowed me to dedicate the rest of the month to parties, cozy movie nights with friends, and all the other festive activities I love so much—stress-free. That's enough to make me give up procrastinating for good. Maybe.

Learn more about how Eno from Capital One looks out for you and your money by clicking here.

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Top image: Stocksy

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