The holiday season is now in high gear, and according to the National Retail Federation, that means the average American couple will be spending an extra $1500 on gifts. But smart shopping can lower that number.
Playing Santa is an expensive hobby.
"I have a lot of people to buy for," said Jill Fenny, a Christmas shopper. "I have a big family; there's 8 of us. Just brothers and sisters, 32 people. So, I'd say about... I'm going to try to stay around $2,000."
But there are simple ideas you can use all year round to reduce both expense and your stress.
Make a budget. Decide how much to spend, divide it among the people you're shopping for, and stick to it. And cross yourself off. The National Retail Federation says the average person spends close to $100 on themselves while holiday shopping.
Next, if you use a credit card that offers reward points, be aware that many allow you to convert points into gift cards. And some even give you a bonus, so a $20 reward could become a $25 gift certificate.
And use the Internet! Use it to comparison shop. Use a deals search engine to see if there are coupons or other savings available online. And check out cash-back sites to get rebates.
Did you get gift cards last year that you haven't used up? Maybe it's time for you to turn them into a gift for somebody else.
And use you're imagination instead of cash. What kid wouldn't like to receive a 'get-out-of-punishment free' card?
"It's a nice gesture to try to turn things around a little bit so it's more from the heart than from the pocket," said Fenny
To save money all year long, do what Santa does: make a list, check it twice. Use your imagination instead of your money.