Ghostly howls will quickly turn to Christmas carols - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Ghostly howls will quickly turn to Christmas carols

CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- You may be putting your final touches on this year's Halloween costume, but retail stores around the country are already looking ahead to a different holiday.

A Gallup poll is looking at how much families plan to spend this Christmas. Those surveyed are intending to dole out about the same amount as last year -- $715. That's down nearly $200 from Christmas just four years ago.

While you're still dealing with ghosts and goblins, in Blain's Farm and Fleet, it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

"People do comment when they walk in the door and say, is it that time already? And we say, yes it is," said manager Nicholas Shores.

Retailers are hoping for a better holiday season than last year. At Blain's, the Toyland launch a few weeks ago showed promise.

"We had 130 shoppers through the door when we opened up at 7:00. And they were buying Christmas toys, they were also buying Christmas decorations," he said.

Whether you're planning to buy more or less, financial experts recommend you think before you spend.

"It is only 57 days away now, so if you haven't already started a plan, there are some things you can do to help make your Christmas buying easier this year," noted Stacey Bentley, Marketing President for Community National Banks.

Number one on your list should actually be, making a list.

"Set a budget, then stick to that budget," said Bentley.

Instead of wandering the aisles looking for present inspiration, decide what you want to buy, and shop around for the top deals.

"Look for the coupons, look for the sales, but still continue to buy local because it helps us all," Bentley explained.

And don't forget, holiday spending includes more than what goes under the tree. You're likely paying for the evergreen too.

"Buying that Christmas tree, or buying the decorations for inside or out of the house... all that should be going in your budgeting," she said.

One more hint -- using a credit card can save you money or help you budget.

"Sometimes it's 90 days same as cash. Just remember, that credit card bill is going to come in the New Year, so you have to have a plan to pay that off," said Bentley.

And when the New Year does come, it's a good time to think about saving for next year.

Bentley added, you don't have to spend money on presents. If you have a tight budget, give the gift of time by spending a day with a loved one. You can also use your talents to bake some treats or write a song.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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