Despite a shrinking budget for many this holiday season, there are still plenty of ways to stretch your buck. Experts say it'll just take some extra planning and smart shopping to still pack 'em in under the tree.
"First thing people need to do is create a budget for holiday shopping and establish spending limits with gifts for each person," said Sheri Stuart, communications specialist for Springboard Credit Counseling in Riverside.
"Make a list and stick to it," said Alicia Rockmore, co-founder of Buttoned Up Inc. (www.getbuttonedup.com), a company that provides products, resources and advice for busy women.
"Separate shopping from spending," Stuart added. "Shopping is comparing prices for the best quality and value, then it's time to spend."
Rockmore recommends shoppers pay with cash money - which tends to make people really think about what they're spending. And, it'll save on credit card interest.
Many families are thinking about shrinking their shopping lists this year and coming up with other ideas - handmade crafts, special desserts, breads or other goodies - instead of the traditional store-bought gifts.
And, if you have family or friends you plan on seeing sometime after Christmas, hit the after Christmas sales, Rockmore suggested. These can offer huge discounts.
Savings expert and creator of the site www.thegrocerygame.com Teri Gault offers these tips for shoppers looking for a deal:
This site offers savings on grocery store items each week for a minimal monthly membership fee. It lists unadvertised sales, giving shoppers the "inside scoop" on savings.
Owned and operated by eBay, this site offers books, textbooks, music, movies, games and more for half the cost of retail price.
This site offers brand name items including apparel, home furnishings and shoes at nearly 60 percent off retail price.
Huge online retail babbly care Web site that began with just diapers, but now offers bottles, pacifiers, creams, shampoos and more.