The great personal finance book Grow Your Money!: 101 Easy Tips to Plan, Save, and Invest ends with a list of what financial steps we should take each month. They list the November steps as follows:
Make sure enough money has been withheld to pay taxes. Plan your holiday spending in advance.
Make sure enough money has been withheld to pay taxes.
Plan your holiday spending in advance.
My take on these:
1. I actually look over my projected income (and thus taxes owed) as part of my tax prep in March/April. Based on my CPA's recommendations, I make any adjustments at this point to make sure I have enough (but not too much) tax withheld.
2. We do some holiday shopping during the year (as we see things people like -- though I must admit it's often hard not to give them their gifts early) but our actual budget is set at the end of December the previous year as we develop our budget. That said, we fine tune it in early November and if we decide to go over a bit, we have the financial flexibility to do so. It's not like we're going to spend $1 million on gifts anyway...