The holidays are now only a few months away and it is time to think about how to pay for everything. Since there are a good couple of months before the holidays, you should take the time to talk to family and friends now to see if there are alternatives to gift giving.

My family is already planning our pair of vacations: one with the kids and one without the kids just after New Years (when the kids are back in school). The kids have narrowed down the two places they want to go, and fortunately they are both interested in the remaining options. Since the two locations are pretty much tied together, we will be spending an hour or two comparing the costs of travel, lodgings, and activities for the two choices and will likely choose the one that is less expensive. Then we will give the kids a couple of presents with the difference in cost.

Regardless of what you plan to do, this is the time to go in and start finalizing your budget. If you are planning a vacation, research how much major expenses will cost (travel, hotel, activities, souvenirs, passports, and any other expected expenses). If you are planning on shopping for presents, get an idea of what you are going to give and start researching costs. This many months in advance of Christmas, you may be able to get an amazing discount and put less stress on your budget by spreading out the costs.

For example, many places are still having back to school sales. If you are planning on buying a printer, computer, or other tech item, you are more likely to get an amazing deal now than you are even on Black Friday or Cyber Monday. You will also have an easier time of looking at it in the store. If you want to order it online, you won’t have to worry about it arriving in time. Just have it sent to your home and you can wrap it and hide it.

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