It’s mid-September and a Halloween store just opened up in my neighborhood. The typical American spends $19 on a costume. I’ve got two sons to dress, so that’s $38 right there, plus tax, plus all the other stuff I spend money on at Halloween.

If I get away with spending just $100 for the holiday, it’s a relatively cheap year.

Which brings me to Christmas and Hannukah. While the winter holidays are several months away, it’s not too soon to decide who you’re giving gifts to this year and how much you’re going to spend.

Imagine a Christmas that doesn’t include going into debt. Paying off a huge credit card bill in January or February isn’t much fun, and if you’re still carrying debt from last year, it’s time for a big change of pace.

Setting the budget now, and then setting aside the cash to pay for these gifts will allow you to go into the holiday season feeling somewhat under control.

With practical, informative consumer advice, I’m Ilyce Glink, News-Talk 750 WSB