How you can generously spread Christmas cheer on a budget in 2013

Although spending during the holiday season is expected to increase, your debt doesn’t have to.

Even if you took advantage of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, I have some helpful tips to help you get the most bang for your buck next Christmas season:

• Shop after 6 p.m. the evening before a sale is advertised to begin. Many retailers program the registers the night before the sale. Ask the associate in advance for any possible upcoming sales, especially on big ticket items.

• Leave the plastic at home. Set a specific amount of money for each gift, and put that money in separate envelopes marked with the recipients’ names.

• Make a list of everyone you need to buy for and how much you plan to spend on them before visiting any store or website and stick to it.

• Save yourself the guesswork and stay on budget by buying gift cards, especially for non-family members and acquaintances such as teachers, babysitters and bosses.

• Use the Web to compare prices and products before storming the stores. Not only will you save time, you also will save money on gas by not driving all over town.

• Sign up to receive emails from your favorite retailers. The NRF anticipates an extreme promotional holiday season with the brunt of sales offered to a retailer’s most loyal customers only.

• Find discount codes to save hundreds while online shopping. Simply go to,, and to pull up all of the available discounts for your store. These discount codes usually offer free shipping or 20 percent off or more.

• Avoid the “10 percent off, buy more” trend. Stores often offer great deals when you sign up for their credit cards, but beware of the high interest rates. In the long run, you’ll be spending more than you saved.

• Get some money back by shopping on Shop hundreds of retailers through the site and set a percentage of money back from every item bought.

• Before you start shopping, follow your favorite retailers on Twitter and Facebook. Many companies offer discounts exclusively to their Twitter followers and Facebook friends.

• Give Alternative gifts. Instead of giving tangible gifts such as clothes and jewelry, try gifting discounted outings and services. Use or to give your friends and family goodies such as spa packages and their favorite pastime activities.

Following these money saving tips will ensure thank you will be Jolly Old Saint Nick instead of the mean Mr.(or Ms.) Grinch. For more information visit

Watch Al Sunshine’s Money Watch reports Monday-Friday on CBS4. You may find Al’s blog at

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