SAN ANTONIO -

It is technically still summer, but retailers, including HEB this year, are getting a head start on the holidays by offering layaway programs.

"This is early in the season, but this is the time of year when families should start preparing for the holidays and start thinking about how much money they need to budget," Dya Campos, HEB spokeswoman, said.

Until  Dec. 13, customers can put electronics, small appliances and toys on layaway at HEB Plus stores.  The service is free. The layaway desk is in the electronics department.

"I live on a budget, so layaway's great for me," said Dianne Cervantez. She said she'll be budgeting for gifts for her grandchildren.

"It let's me afford putting so much money each month so that by the time when it gets here, I can get the things I need for my grandchildren," she said.

Layaway at major retailers has been in revival mode since 2011, when families were pinched by the Recession.

This year, Walmart is bringing it back. And, this year, there are no fees to open a layaway account.

Toys'R'Us is also advertising free layaway for a limited time.

Layaway is a form of financing, so there are rules and fine print to be aware of.

At HEB, only items $15 and greater are eligible for layaway, and the mimimum purchase required is $50. A down payment of $10 or 10 percent, whichever is greater, is also required.

There are cancelation fees, too. At HEB it's $5, while Walmart and ToysRUs charge $10.

By they way, there are 112 shopping days left until Christmas.

For a list of recent stories Marilyn Moritz has done, click here.