NORTH CAROLINA -- The holiday season is the time of year when we all come together and exchange gifts as a way of spreading love and joy. 

But just because you're making spirits light, that doesn't mean you have to make your wallet light also.

We sat down with the founder of Steward Wealth Strategies, Brant Spessdhardt, to discuss five ways you can be a strategic shopper. 

Prevent overextending yourself by following these tips:

1. Shop Early in the Season and During Non-Peak Hours!

This will prevent you having to make last-minute panic purchases at crowded stores, and enable you to pay attention to how much you spend. Shopping at off-peak hours is the best way to take advantage of holiday sales.

2. Pay by Cash to Prevent NASTY Credit Card Surprises!

It's easy to lose track when swiping a card. Using cash allows you to see first hand how much of your budget is remaining. 

3. For Non-Personal Gifts for Gatherings, Consider Grab-Bag Exchanges!

Purchasing a gift for friends or family memebers, with an agreed on dollar limit, prevents you from worrying you've underspent! 

4. Pool Funds!

Pooling funds with friends and family members to buy something special for one person can turn an expensive idea into an affordable gift!

5. Don't "Dis" the Discount Store

Discount stores can be a paradise for “stocking stuffers” and other small gifts.