Tomorrow marks 40 days until 25thDecember. For any other event, this would seem like a lifetime away, yet a huge number of people across the UK have already started preparing for the festive period.

For many Brits, planning for Christmas begins as soon as the day is over - on Boxing Day, millions flock to the High Street or online retailers to bag the best bargains on next year’s cards, wrapping paper, decorations and even gifts.

Take Rayna Warriner from Bournemouth for example. The mother-of-nine spends the whole year planning to ensure that Christmas comes in on her £3,000 budget.

According to research by the Ideal Home Show at Christmas, a whopping 41% of us started shopping for gifts and food three weeks ago on October 24th – more than seven weeks before the big day and even before Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night.

With so much time browsing the shops, it’s no wonder that the average shopper buys 14 presents at around £24 each. This means that in a lifetime, the average person will spend a whopping £20,000 on Christmas gifts.

And it’s not just money that’s spent. Women spend an average of 13 hours picking their partner’s gift, 49 hours finding the perfect Christmas party outfit and almost four hours wrapping presents. In addition, 14 hours are spent worrying about the Christmas dinner, while four hours and 30 minutes are spent cooking it.

While you can forgive newlyweds for spending astronomic amounts of time and money on their wedding day, Christmas is not a once in a lifetime event. It happens every year.

It’s no doubt that planning and preparation can relieve some of the stresses of Christmas and perhaps help people budget throughout the year. So why isn’t this strategy used in everyday life?

If you saved the same amount of money spent on festivities each year, how much better off would you be? How much would it benefit you if you spent just a fraction of the time spent planning for Christmas on reviewing your finances and personal aspirations? What would it mean if you put the same amount of effort into writing down life goals as you do compiling your Christmas list?

Numerous studies have shown that planning can have a positive impact on someone’s life. Take a study by Dr. Gail Matthews, Ph.D, at the Dominican University for example, which found that you are 42% more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.

If you want to go food shopping for Christmas dinner, you’ll certainly write a list so you don’t forget anything. If you want to go on holiday, you’ll start planning ahead to make sure you have the money. So if your dream is to change your career, retire early or invest in property, why not use the same method?

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