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What? Me shop early for gifts?
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I’m a last-minute Christmas shopper.

For reasons unknown, I’ve always been that way.

Perhaps it’s due in part to my life in the news world, cranking things out as the deadline approaches.

Maybe I’m just being frugal, hoping that my strategy to wait as close as possible to this Thursday, Dec. 25, for last-minute savings.

Don’t believe me? Stores are not only staying open longer but are slashing prices even more so than that of the previous years.

The sagging economy also has much to do with how retailers are having to adjust to things.

In a recent CNN poll, about two-thirds of folks in this country reportedly are stressed about belt-tightening their finances during the recession just to cut it through the holidays.

That’s four in 10 people who were questioned in the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey. All told, 67 percent of these

1,096 adults are being forced to place a strict budget on gift-giving along with leisure travel, dining out or going to the movies.

Meanwhile, I’m used to operating on a strict budget, recession or not.

However, I’ve put a tighter clamp on my gift-purchasing budget to family members.

Take my four nephews and two nieces, for example.

Here, I’ve managed to spend less than $15 on each gift idea, getting more bang from my buck on some of the great deals during the past few days.

I’ve even managed to find something for my son, Josh, in that price range.

He’s into the Star Wars collectibles. Last week, we came across an antique store in Stockton with some of these very items in stock.

Josh, 13, was agog over a concept all-white action figure of Boba Fett, the Bounty Hunter, from the George Lucas sci-fi movie classic series.

As I’m often inclined to do, I made a mental note.

This morning, I stopped by the antique store, grabbed the very one in stock, and even came away quite satisfied with my purchase.

At last count, I still have a couple of gift cards and maybe one or two gift items.

But I’m not worried. By noon of Christmas Eve, I’ll have all my purchases gift-wrapped and ready for delivery.

For it takes plenty of practice to know how to do these sorts of things at the last minute.

And believe me, I’ve had plenty of practice over the years.

Who says procrastination doesn’t pay off?

Merry Christmas!