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Holiday Gifting: Budgeting

BOSTON (CBS) - It always surprises me when I first see the Christmas displays in October. I think they come out earlier each year. The merchants are certainly trying to get a start on the season. Some stores have big signs at the door letting you know how many days until Christmas.

The Christmas candy was in the next isle over from the Halloween candy. I don't buy my Halloween candy until the afternoon of Halloween. Then I have a chance of it actually getting into the fancy pumpkin bowl for the Trick or Treaters.

Christmas Cards were ready to purchase in early October for those very organized folks who get them all written and ready to mail the first of December.

And worse, I stopped at the Burlington Mall and there was Santa. He has been there since the first of November.

I personally like to begin to think about Christmas after Thanksgiving. I liked it when Santa arrived on Thanksgiving Day in the Macy's Day parade. Not before.

According to the National Retail Federation's annual Holiday Consumer Spending Survey, consumers say they will spend $967 this year. Of that amount, $608 will be for gifts, $218 for other holiday items such as cards, special foods, decorations and $141 for non-gift purchases for themselves and their families.

What can you afford without going into debt this year? Create a budget. Make a list of the holiday expenses and include all your costs here, gifts and the non-gift items.

What and who can you delete from your Christmas list? Do you need to send Christmas cards to everyone you know? How about just those that live far away. Or just your grandparents and the rest get an e-mail with a Christmas letter.

Hopefully you started saving last January and you have the dollars you need to start shopping. The average consumer who uses a credit card is still paying off Christmas in July! And some consumers are still paying off last year's Christmas gifts.


You can hear Dee Lee's expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m. and 3:55 p.m.

Subscribe to Dee's Money Matters newsletter here.

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