Call me crazy. Call me cheap. Call me what you will, but I started my Christmas shopping for 2017 on December 26th.

I'm playing it safe, really. Oh and sure, I'm trying to save some money in the process, too.

What happened this past winter for my family is reason enough to get ahead, but still it's not like I haven't been trying to do this all along.

My Mom got pretty sick with pneumonia at the beginning of December and had I not already had the majority of mine done, I could have had a more difficult time since I ended up having to do the bulk of her shopping as well. But starting early is beneficial for the unexpected, like someone getting sick. Who wants to worry about having to do anything holiday related when breathing alone is a chore?!

Also, it really is financially smart to get yourself out and taking advantage of sales when they're around.

Don't get me wrong, the last thing I want to do is worry that I got something for someone that they won't want and then can't return because I bought it the year before. That's why I'm strategic in my purchases, while creative in sale shopping.

The biggest 'pointer' I can give you is buying something fairly universal. This week you'll see a lot of sales as stores try to take advantage of your after Christmas spending sprees. Whether we're out spending gift cards or picking up an item we hoped would be under our tree, see what else you spot while you're out. Does someone come to mind? I like to head to the stores that are only around at the holiday time and pick up fun games, trinkets and silly items. Typically items, if not the entire store is having a major "everything must go" kind of sale and with that, you're saving some serious cash. The best part, the items that you pick up are usually stuff you can get year round at the big box stores, so if someone did want to return it, they could and get store credit towards whatever they do want.

So, my holiday shopping lesson to you - shop early, shop smart and make it easier on yourself. No one needs that last minute crunch stress. Plus, it'll leave the holiday itself more enjoyable for you, too!