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Christmas is right around the corner, and you had better be prepared.  Making sure that you have what you need for everyone on your list can be a challenge — and it can also be expensive.  If you want to avoid breaking the bank this holiday season, here are 10 tips to help you save money on Christmas shopping:

  1. Stick to a Budget
    First off, set a budget and stick to it.  Figure out how much you have to spend on your Christmas shopping.  Then, make a list of those you need to buy for.  If you have a list of what you want to get each person, it will save you time and keep your spending on track.
  1. Buy Inexpensive Stocking Stuffers
    Don’t go overboard on stocking stuffers.  It’s tempting to buy every little gadget available, but you need to watch out.  You might not be keeping track of the little things you buy, and they can add up.  This is a great chance to be frugal by shopping for little gifts at the dollar store and including some candies, nuts and mandarin oranges.
  1. Set Up a Gift Exchange
    You can cut down on shopping for extended family by setting up a gift exchange.  As your siblings grow up, get married and have children, your Christmas shopping list gets longer.  It can get out of hand unless you change the way you do things.  Draw names and each person will only buy for the one person whose name they drew.  Everyone gets a gift and you all save possibly hundreds of dollars.  It’s a winning situation and can be a lot of fun.
  1. Shop the Early Sales
    One of the best things you can do when it comes to the way you save money on Christmas shopping is to look for sales.  Shop early if a decent sale comes along.  Not only will this save you money, but it can save you the hassle of crowds as Christmas gets closer.
  1. Shop Online
    Once December gets advanced enough, the traffic and the crowds become unbearable.  Another way to avoid crowds and save money is to shop online.  You can often find products cheaper than you do in the store, and you don’t have to battle with others.  However, you do need to keep an eye on shipping costs to ensure you really are getting a deal.  Check for promo codes and sites that offer free shipping on holiday purchases.
  1. Save on Shipping by Ordering Early
    To save money on shipping, shop soon to give you time to use many sites’ free shipping options.  The closer to Christmas, the more you’ll need to pay for priority or express shipping.  This is also the case when you are sending presents to friends and family.  If you must pay for express or overnight shipping to get your gifts on time, you’ll pay so much more money.
  1. Stay Away from Extended Warranties
    During the holiday shopping frenzy, it’s hard to make decisions, and easy to say yes to whatever someone suggests. However, you need to be on your toes at check-out if you want to save money. Avoid extended warranties on your purchases.  If an item is defective, it’s likely to have issues within the standard warranty’s time frame.  Don’t spend extra money for coverage you probably won’t need.
  1. Buy Discounted Gift Cards
    There are plenty of places to buy discounted gift cards.  If you aren’t sure what to get, look for an experience. Discounted gift cards can provide you with a face value that exceeds what you actually pay.  This can be a way to look like a hero and save money.
  1. Consider a Bonus Gift Card from a Restaurant
    Want to save money on your own dining experience?  Some restaurants have been enticing people to buy gift cards by including a bonus gift card.  You might not save money on your immediate Christmas purchase, but you can save money on a future meal.  That can be worthwhile.  Additionally, you might be able to use the bonus card as a white elephant gift or a stocking stuffer.  While this can be a great deal, check out the bonus card as it may have an expiry date.
  1. Keep the Gift Receipts
    Finally, make sure that you keep all your receipts in a safe place since items may be broken or clothes might not fit. While some stores will accept returns without a receipt, it will be at whatever their lowest price has been on that item, so you might not get full value for it.  You will also need your receipt if you want to make a claim using your credit card.  Many credit cards offer extended warranties and protection against theft or returns.  If the store won’t take it back, you might be able to get money through your credit card perks — but you’ll need the receipt.

With the right planning and a little savvy, you can save money on Christmas shopping every year and get the right gift for each person on your list.