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Move over, Black Friday: 'OctoNovemCember' is here

Parents are looking for deals long before Thanksgiving -- and worrying about their ability to pay. Use these tips to take charge of the holiday.

By Donna_Freedman Oct 18, 2012 11:28AM

Logo: Gift (Brian Hagiwara, Brand X, Corbis)Holiday shopping behaviors are changing. A new survey from the RetailMeNot coupon website indicates that 39% of parents start their shopping before November.

Why so early? Because "deal-seeking behaviors have become more of the norm within the consumer purchase cycle," note the authors of a a white paper recently released by RMN.


In other words: Only amateurs pay retail.

According to "OctoNovemCember: Why an unsteady economy is causing consumers to search for deals long before Black Friday," merchants are responding to those deal-seeking behaviors. They're floating hot deals long before Thanksgiving, a practice the authors call "Christmas creep."


Do these über-early-bird sales allow shoppers to feel confident about their holiday spending?

Nope. One in four of the more than 1,600 people surveyed were worried about being able to afford their planned purchases. Oh, and 71% of them have a "dismal" view of the economy.

Which begs the question, "Then why are you planning to spend so much for the holidays? Especially if it stresses you out?"

The question is obvious, but the answer isn't. Holidays are pretty psychologically fraught. It's not easy to change old habits, especially if you're part of a family or social group that emphasizes excessive spending.

Take charge of the holidays

The good news: The RMN study is a fine wake-up call.

Christmas decorations are already in stores and Black Friday website e-mails have begun to circulate -- but you've got plenty of time to rethink your holiday habits.

What is your budget? Remember to include decorations, traditional foods and special events like holiday concerts along with projected gift costs. Now: Where is that money going to come from?

What do you actually want
to do? For example, if hosting a big party has become too exhausting and/or expensive, you could compromise with an afternoon open house and serve cookies, coffee and cocoa. (Remember, the more tired you are the more likely you'll overspend.)

Can you afford your vision of the holidays?
If it took months to pay off last year's celebration, it's time to regroup. A few possible strategies: cutting the number of presents, setting cost limits on gift exchanges, using price comparison websites and online coupon sites to find the lowest prices.

Can you pay as you go?
Since the OctoNovemCember deals are ongoing, you can buy a few items per pay period. By all means use a rewards credit card, but by spreading out your shopping, you may be able pay the tab in cash each month.

Don't wait until Black Friday websites, deal-of-the-day sites and newspaper ads whip you into a consumerist frenzy. Create a budget and a buying plan and take advantage of the best prices you can find. But when the list is all crossed off, stop shopping. Your bottom line will thank you.

Are you doing any holiday shopping yet? Will you be finished by Black Friday?

More on MSN Money:

Oct 25, 2012 7:52AM

Technically, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  The tradition of gift giving stems from the Magi bringing gifts to the new born baby.  One each.  Each of importance that provided for the entire family.  The operative word being 'family'.


In modern times it's a time that most hearts are open to the spirit of giving.  In all ways.  Removing this tradition from our lives would be a grave mistake.  It's a time to remember the good that family has provided for (and towards) each other.  A time of companionship, good food, and laughter.


The gift giving is part of the celebration.  Keeping this portion of it conservative is a good thing.  Make a budget, save the cash, and pull through it with a generous heart.  After all there is an economic side to Christmas as well.  Buy ingredients for 2 types of goodies, not ten.  Use the dollar store for wrapping or be creative and use what you have at home like paper grocery bags.  Food can be as simple as an ethnic dish from your family history and a glass of wine. 


I shop early because I have a difficul time with the crazy crowds.  No other reason, other than prices are so much better.  Each adult child gets 3 gifts, each spouse gets 2.  The grands get educational items such as crayons and books along with a small gc so they can pick out a gift and one outfit.  I have fun wrapping and displaying the gifts.  I put up a tree and purchase pointsettia plants.  That's the decorations.  Most of all I am thankful for the healthy and well adjusted family my husband and I took the time to focus on.  The love is demonstrated 365 days a year.


Merry Christmas to all.

Oct 24, 2012 9:31AM
I stopped giving gifts to anyone except the children years ago and love it. no stress for me over what to get you, and you, and you, and you, and you, and you!
Oct 23, 2012 8:08PM
OMG I really wish writers would STOP using the word "über".  It is misused every single time!  über translated into English literally means "over".  Like I am walking OVER the bridge.  The word DOES NOT have more than one meaning like it does here and it is NOT used for emphasis.  If you translate it, you are saying "over early bird sales".  It makes no sense whatsoever!!!!
Oct 20, 2012 5:46PM

If you are over 18, no gifts for you.  If you are over 25 and we haven't seen you in a year, don't bother coming over at all.  We know how busy you have been and why let something like the Holidays change that?


You can tell us how your Christmas was on Facebook.  Not that we will read it.

Oct 19, 2012 1:44PM
Oct 19, 2012 1:34PM
Usually Black Friday is my last day of shopping. If i pick up things here and there with my checks coming in before the holidays starting around the first of October. It makes the month of December a lot more enjoyable to have all the shopping done and time to spend with family and creating traditons.
Oct 19, 2012 11:45AM

My family stopped buying presents for adults years ago.  We just buy stuff for the kids

I would rather buy my own stuff

We do get together for the day and eat like crazy, though and then play cards all night

Oct 19, 2012 11:31AM
slysn1drlnd said;
"Last I checked the holidays were NOT about presents?! WTF people!"

While I ABSOLUTELY AGREE with your sentiment, sadly, the last time you checked, must have been YEARS ago. Our liberal society has turned all things Ethical into all things Commercial.
Oct 19, 2012 9:30AM
I used to way over spend at Holidays, going so far as to even get inexpensive little trinket type gifts for my office co-workers, like a miniature 3 inch stocking with different flavored candy canes in it.  And I'm talking not only Christmas, but Halloween, Valentine's and Easter.  How insane.  But I loved doing it!  Unfortunately, my budget paid the price.  Now that I am no longer in an office, I've been able to break that cycle.  I think a lot of over doing on the gift giving is psychological, stemming from wanting people to like us, to trying to show how much we love someone by how much we spent, to hoping to get presents back.  I admist these were some of my motivations.  This year, I'm getting a grip on it, and we have all agreed to one gift only with a $20 limit.  The rest, as many of you have pointed out, is about just being together for a while.
Oct 19, 2012 8:27AM
I hate shopping. I know it`s necessary, but I hate it. 
Oct 19, 2012 2:57AM
Can't wait for the article that says "Shoppers begin planning for holidays in March." Good god have we've become the most "stuff" oriented culture to have existed on the planet.
Oct 19, 2012 12:25AM
To each his own.  Do it your way. 
Oct 18, 2012 9:52PM
I think we are all sick of trying to squeeze everything having to do with the Christmas holidays into a few short weeks ... including:
putting up inside AND outside decorations, seeking out and purchasing multiple gifts for multiple people, buying ingredients and making holiday goodies, purchasing, preparing and sending out holiday cards, preparing for and / or attending holiday parties, purchasing significant amounts of gift wrap and bows,  hours of wrapping multiple gifts, buying a long list of supplies for holiday meals, making arrangements for holiday travel or receiving guests ... and having all this completed by Dec 24.  And all of this is done in conjunction with working a full time job.

Whether we agree with all this or not is irrelevant ... we are expected to do this in our culture so we can fulfill everyone's expectations of what Christmas is supposed to be.  I for one, am so tired of it and all the total exhaustion that comes with it.  It is no wonder that people are overwhelmed and irritable during the holidays ... there is WAY TOO MUCH TO DO ... and far too little time to get is all done.
If I had my way... I would give myself the gift I really want for Christmas, and that is to never have to enter a single store, never purchase a single gift or put up any decorations ... and just take a long quiet vacation somewhere far away from the Christmas madness that is relaxing and fun. 
Oct 18, 2012 8:13PM
Leave it to the left to try and get more money from us by creating another "holiday"
Oct 18, 2012 8:11PM
Move over Black Friday--Revolution is coming!
Oct 18, 2012 8:11PM
"OctoNovemCember???" What kind of stupid name is that?

Anyway, I agree with most of the other posters here...consumerism has destroyed our holidays and made them a breeding ground for running, shoving, slobbering, shopping-obsessed zombies who will trample people to death just to buy the latest junk toys or cheaply made electronics. I'll stay home and enjoy some hot chocolate.
Oct 18, 2012 6:19PM

I use black friday and cyber monday to buy things I need for myself and my family and not just to buy christmas gifts.

Last year i bought jeans for $5 made by Levi, shirts for $6, boots for $15, and other things I needed to buy to wear for myself. I bought clothes as gifts for my children and a couple of gifts they wanted. Overall christmas shopping cost me about $350 to 400 dollars which I had planned for by saving it.

Black Friday has good deals and I go for them, but I save for it and plan it out. The whole thing about black friday shooping is the $400 I spent would have been about $750 at the regular prices.

Oct 18, 2012 5:52PM
Oct 18, 2012 5:05PM
If you happen to work in the retail industry there is NO such thing as a holiday.
Oct 18, 2012 4:23PM
Lets all run to Wal-Mart buy plenty of thier junk and then wrap it as presents. Ahhh...Merry Christmas everybody........Oh I'm sorry Happy Holidays. AHHHHHHHH!!!  Screw it.....I quit. No more junk for me . I'll keep my declining dollars.
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Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.


Donna Freedman

Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.