NY1's latest Money Matters report provides tips on how you can buy gifts for your whole list without putting a huge hole in your pocket. NY1's Tara Lynn Wagner filed the following report.
'Tis the season to be shopping, but with lists long and money tight, consumers are looking for ways to give gifts without going into debt.
"People are really looking to stretch their holiday dollars," says Paul Golden, a spokesperson with the National Endowment for Financial Education. "They're doing online shopping. They're comparison. They're looking for deals."
That means looking for coupon codes, which this time of year are easier to find than the elf on the shelf.
"You'll have everything from free shipping to free shipping plus an additional discount, and these are on top of the sales that those manufacturers are already having," says Jeanette Pavini, a savings expert with coupons.com.
Actually in a store? You can still search for coupons by using your smartphone to go online while you're waiting in line. Pavini says that this is also a good time to do some last-minute comparison shopping and find a deal that you can use to your advantage.
"If you know that it's less expensive somewhere else, it does not hurt to just ask the store manager, 'Would you honor this price?'" Pavini says.
Even after you've left the store, the door to save money is still open, provided you save your receipts.
"Most stores offer a 14-day price adjustment period, and that's when you go to the store, you show them your receipt, if it's gone down, they credit you back the difference," Pavini says. "I have saved so much money over the years by doing that one simple thing."
Finally, she says that as you head out to do battle at the mall, leave your credit cards at home and arm yourself only with cash.
"Put the amount of cash you want to spend on that particular shopping trip in an envelope and do not spend any more," she says. "There's no pain in turning over a credit card. There's a lot more conscious pain when you're turning over cash. So that is one way to really stay within that budget."
Of course, that's assuming you have a budget, which I'm sorry to say is one area where many of us end up on the naughty list.
"In fact six in 10 in a survey we did are not doing a spending plan for their holiday expenses, and you've got to think beyond just gifts," Golden says. "Things like entertaining, travel, decorations, holiday cards.
As a gift to you, the National Endowment for Financial Education put together a holiday season checklist that includes everything right down to the tree. Go to smartaboutmoney.org to find that list and check it twice.