Looking for ways to save money this holiday season? Don’t let yourself get into that dreaded winter debt! Here are ten tips to keep you afloat during Christmas—and all year long!

1. Plan It: Sounds like a hassle, but you before you tackle the big spending take some time out to create a spending/shopping plan that outlines who you will buy for and how much you are willing to spend.

2. Use Discounted Gift Cards: Purchase discounted gift cards for hundreds of online/offline retailers including the Apple Store, Radio Shack, Sears, and Home Depot. Discounts are usually 5%-30% off the face value of the card. Check out GiftCardRescue.com and GiftCards.com.

3. Use Social Media: Check out retailers on Twitter and Facebook where lots of companies offer giveaways and social media discounts. Their recent posts may reveal money-saving discount codes.

4. Barter Via Online Chat: When you’re shopping online, look for a “chat” or “live help” button. Often times if you establish a relationship with the customer service person they will give you a 15% discount. Retailers would sometimes rather give you a discount than lose you as a client.

5. Find Discount Codes: You can save so much money online by going to RetailMeNot.com, SecretPrices.com, and FreeShipping.org to pull up all of the available discounts for whichever store you are interested in. Use the discount code during the checkout process to get free shipping or to save 20% or more.

6. Get Cash Back: If you use ebates.com, you can get rebate checks for your purchases.

7. Bring on the Envelopes, Chuck the Credit Cards: Using cards can make you spend way too much money. Allocate an amount of money for each gift, and put that money in separate envelopes marked with the recipients’ names. It will also help you stay very organized with receipts in case the person wants to return.

8. Give Group Gifts: Try a “white elephant” exchange for $10 maximum, a secret Santa strategy, or going in with co-workers on a gift for your boss.

9. Make a Promise That You Won’t Buy Anything for Yourself: Remember that this season is about giving–not unadulterated shopping sprees. Plus, you’ll probably have plenty to return or gift cards to spend when the holiday season is done.

10. Avoid the “10% off, buy more” Phenomenon: Stick to what you originally planned and don’t sign up for something that might put you in the hole after the holiday buzz dies down!


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