If you’ve ventured into a store recently, you’ve no doubt been assaulted by Halloween decorations. Which is fine, it is almost October. But if you continued around to the other side of the display, you may have also been confronted by Christmas decorations. That’s right, the holiday shopping season has begun. In fact, my Joann’s mailer already has Christmas decorations at a discount! So, apparently, the holiday discounting season has also begun.

It’s tempting to just hide your head and wait until December when it feels like Christmas. (As I write this, it is 85 degrees outside. I don’t live in Australia, so that’s definitely not Christmas weather. Although, I live in Los Angeles, so I guess it could be. But I digress.)

Create Your Gift List Now
Don’t hide your head. Take action. Determine your holiday budget now, before you’re swayed by all the commercials, temptingly wrapped “stocking stuffers”, and the spirit of generosity. If you do it now, you can be realistic.

Then, with your budget firmly in mind, create the list of gifts you’ll be giving people, along with a dollar limit. I usually wait until Thanksgiving to ask what my younger cousins want, but I know the budget way in advance, so when they tell me this year’s gift card request I can purchase one in that amount. (My cousins are teens and tweens. They want gift cards, not toys.)

If you’re planning to buy any big ticket items, start scouting out sales now, but wait to buy until the Black Friday and pre-Black Friday sales start, because that’s when you’ll see true deals. Scouting now will help you get an idea of what a great price is. No, you won’t score an iPad for $100, but you might get a great deal on an Android tablet come Thanksgiving.

Keep an Eye Out for Gifts
As you’re out an about, keep an eye out for gifts on your list. Once you’ve bought them, do not keep shopping for that person just in case you find something “better.” Better usually means more expensive, or extra. Be firm with yourself. Being generous doesn’t mean you have to go into debt.

Start Making Gifts Now
Many people have the intention of making gifts, which is great and affordable, if you start now (except for baked goods.) If you wait until December to start making gifts, you will probably find yourself among the last minute holiday shoppers because the gift isn’t ready in time.

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