Holiday shopping isn't child's play. To make the most of your holiday budget, you need to plan ahead.
No matter what you intend on spending, there are plenty of ways to save. Tip number one? Make list and check it twice.
Decide how much you're spending, who you're buying for and divide up the budget. Sticking to the list will keep you organized and on track.
And speaking of lists, tip 2: take yourself off yours. The National Retail Federation says Americans will spend $750 each this holiday season - but that includes about a hundred bucks we're going to spend on ourselves. Scratch yourself - you've already saved 13 percent.
Tip 3: Sales and Coupons... Beyond Black Friday and Cyber Monday, always check for coupons online and in the store. It takes seconds and could save a bundle.
But make sure you know what those coupons say.
Tip 4: Gift cards: use your unused ones from last year, or buy discounted ones from specialty sites and use them: that could save you 10 percent or more.
Final tip? Give something valuable that won't cost you a dime: yourself.
There are any number of ways to do it, from baby-sitting to cooking meals to shopping and doing chores. Just make a gift certificate and you're done.
But to use these tips, you need one more: start early. The more time you have, the easier it is to substitute imagination for money. Want more tips? Go to MoneyTalksNews.com and do a search for Holiday Shopping.