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Five Tips To Shop Smart This Holiday Season

The average holiday spending per person in 2015 was more than $800, according to the National Retail Federation.


It's easy to get caught up in the flurry of activity – not to mention the holiday spirit—and exceed your typical budget during the holiday season. Here are some ways to keep the holidays merry and bright without breaking the bank:

Look before you buy
As with most financial endeavors, planning ahead will save you time AND money. Last minute shoppers spend more on average than those who get a jump on their shopping earlier, so make your list and check it twice. Look for sales in advance, plot out what you will buy at a store or on a website before you go there. Setting a budget, either overall or by family member or friend, also can keep you on track.

Limit yourself to your list – then step away
Sticking to your list and avoiding the "shopping wave" – where you're more likely to continue buying after making some purchases – will help keep your spending in check.

Use your smartphone to comparison shop
Our mobile devices are our constant companions – so why not use them to search for deals while you're out and about? Before you make a purchase, use your phone to see if you can get the same item for a better price elsewhere – there are even apps that will do this for you with a quick scan of an item's barcode. If the original store has a price-match policy, you can cash in on any savings on the spot.

Homemade Gifts
One of the greatest gifts you can give is your time and thoughts. A homemade gift can often mean more than an item with a price tag. Whether it's a Mason jar with the ingredients of your famous cookie recipe or a handmade scarf, the gesture will go a long way – and your wallet will thank you!

Save now to buy later
The holiday's come around every year so start saving in advance! Set up an automatic transfer from your savings to checking account, so you're ready when it's time to buy. Not enough time to start saving now? You may want to set up a dedicated savings account for this purpose so you've got a cache of cash to shop next holiday season – it will be here before you know it!


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