holiday shopping hacksThis time of year, we not only need to worry about our clothes getting tighter, we need to try and keep our budgets from getting bigger too! Gift giving is wonderful however it can be quite costly and can add stress to the happy holiday season.

People all over the country make their lists and check them twice, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed by the extraneous things that affect your Christmas shopping, namely the crowds and the money to pay for it all. However, there are a few ways that you can ease the stress and save money during this year’s shopping expedition.

If you’re the type that wants to save money and your sanity this year, read on to learn more about how to make your family’s Christmas less expensive and less stressful for all.

1. Make a List and Stick to It

You don’t go grocery shopping without a list, so why would you undertake something as big as Christmas shopping without one? Of course, writing up a Christmas list is a bit more involved than simply scrawling the words butter and milk on the back of an old receipt, but if done properly a Christmas shopping list can save you time, money, and — most importantly — your sanity.

It can even be helpful to create two or more lists, especially if you’re shopping for children as well as adults. Additionally you can create lists that are specific to one or more retailers. This way you can break up your shopping trips into much more manageable experiences.

2. Take Advantage of Your Credit Card Rewards

If you’re like most people you have one or more credit cards that offer some type of reward program. While many people use these rewards for travel, those points can also come in very handy during the Christmas shopping season.

Many credit card reward points can be redeemed for gift cards. This takes much of the guesswork out of your shopping as you can simply transfer your points to a gift card from a number of retailers. In fact, this type of gift is often one of the most well received, especially if you have picky teenagers to shop for or you need a Secret Santa gift for a coworker that you may not know very well.

However, remember to stick to your budget when using your cards for holiday shopping, and be sure to pay off your balance in full come January.  The same goes for using personal loans to shorten your list more quickly.

3. Establish a Realistic Budget

If you’re not careful, your holiday spending can easily spiral out of control. Retailers love to pull out all the stops when it comes to impulse buying during the Christmas season, so be sure that you have created a budget and that you’re able to stick to it.

If you’re able to spend some time comparison shopping you can easily find the best deals on the items that you know you’ll be purchasing. Check for online specials and be sure to look at all of the offers available. While most stores offer items at similar prices, you may be able to find a great, money-saving deal by doing a bit of research.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.57.46 AM4. Embrace the Beauty of Online Shopping

The Internet is a beautiful thing in many ways, but perhaps the best perk to come from the advent of the World Wide Web is the ability to shop from the comfort of your own couch. Placing all or some of your Christmas shopping orders online can save you time and allow you to avoid seeing other people, and in some cases you can gain access to exclusive products and deals, and save money on bulk orders.

Sites like Amazon are great places to one-stop shop for everyone on your list, but don’t ignore some of the more creative and unusual corners of the Web. If you’re looking for a unique gift for someone special, you’ll find it somewhere on the Internet, although it may take some digging. And don’t forget to start your online shopping early to avoid those pesky backordered items.

The holidays are hectic, but they’re also a time to enjoy the spirit of the season and shower your loved ones with gifts they really want or need. Just be sure to adhere to your budget and list, always consider online options, and utilize your credit card reward points to save money. All of this can add up to increased savings and a cooler, calmer you.

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