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Consumer experts: Now is the time to start budgeting for the holidays

We're about 3 months out from Christmas and some people in our area have already gotten a jump-start on planning and saving money for their holiday shopping.

TOLEDO, Ohio — We just barely started breaking out those fall decorations and it may seem far off, but money experts suggest you start thinking about holiday shopping and how much you need to save.

We're about three months out from Christmas and some people in our area have already gotten a jump-start on planning and saving money for their holiday shopping.

"I start technically the Christmas before," said shopper, Jessica Hastin.

Some take a more casual approach. 

"I haven't even started to think about it," said Sebastian Paredes.

If you haven't started of course, it's not too late. Consumer experts say now is the time to plan out what you're going to get and how much you have to save.

"People are talking about holiday shopping with delays, people are anticipating things going out of stock faster than they usually would," said consumer expert Rebecca Gramuglia.

One of the top tips for holiday shopping is to know your budget ahead of time.

On average, 70 percent of people overspend during the holidays.

"I don't really set aside stuff. I normally save up all my money into one big jar and then if I want to go holiday shopping, I'll bring all of it and just like splurge and buy a ton of stuff; random stuff I don't need," said shopper Miranda Lydey.

Experts say the best way to stay within your budget is to stick to your list of presents and shop around for items that may go on sale. 

"If you're someone who is going to the mall on Christmas Eve, trying to buy a gift at the last minute that you didn't budget for, that could set you back. Holiday shopping is not meant to be dipping into your savings, you want to plan ahead as best as possible," said Gramuglia. 

We have a list of more tips on the best ways to budget for the holidays from topcashback.com.

  • Pre-order now: If a gift is popular or a new item is being released, do your research to see when it is available for purchase. Buying it in advance may save you money and stress. And while pre-orders may seem like a guarantee that you’ll get the product, you’ll still want to purchase the item as soon as possible to avoid the pre-sale running out of supplies.
  • Create a list: Build your holiday shopping list early on to not only help determine your budget but also stay organized to avoid forgetting items and having to buy them last-minute. While the list does not need to include everything at this point in time, it’s good to get a general ballpark amount of how much you plan on spending. Plus, it’ll help you monitor gift ideas to see if there are any noteworthy deals and help you determine if it’s worth buying them early on.
  • Budget (50/20/30) and create a holiday fund: Whether you have an idea of how much you want to spend or not, it’s best to start building your holiday fund so you’re not overspending and dipping into your savings to purchase gifts. Consider adopting the 50/20/30 rule. You’ll want to spend up to 50 percent of your after-tax income on necessities, like food and utilities; 20 percent on finances, such as debt repayments and savings; and 30 percent on personal expenses like holiday shopping and decor. 
  • Have your money-saving tools ready to go: When doing any early holiday shopping, it’s best to know how to earn even more discounts. Be sure to shop through a cashback site, like TopCashback.com, to score a percentage of your money back on all qualifying purchases from over 4,000 retailers nationwide. 
  • Know the sales: While you may want to get all of your holiday shopping out of the way early on, it may cost you more in the long run. Holiday shopping is all about timing so you’ll want to do your research on gift ideas and see where you can likely buy them. From there, you’ll want to take a look at last year’s sale announcements and fliers from events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday to see if you can get an idea of what sales will look like this year. That way you can compare last year’s pricing to the current markup to help you get an idea of what is a “good deal” for the product.

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