Attention, shoppers: You have only 76 more days until Christmas. But who's counting, right?
Earlier this week, the National Retail Federation said it expected holiday sales to increase 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion. There's no need to start shopping now, nor should you, necessarily. But as sales creep earlier into the season, it increasingly pays to have some preparations in place to make sure you're capturing the best deals.
Chief among them: Plot out purchases. It's not just about making your gift list, but researching big-ticket purchases to make sifting through those fast-moving sales easier. (What's your preferred screen technology for that TV? What features are must-haves?) "Decide whether it's the best time to upgrade," said Brent Shelton, a spokesman for deal site FatWallet.com.