The holiday shopping season officially kicks off in just a matter of days on Black Friday.

It’s easy to splurge this time of year but you need to make sure you don’t overspend.

“As a shopper try to stay organized, make a list of your recipients make some gift ideas for each, a budget for each,” shopping expert Trae Bodge said

T’is the season for crowded stores and lots of web traffic at your favorite online retailer and Bodge says deals are out there.

“Going into December we’ll see more discounting on toys and also things that are specifically holiday themed like holiday-themed gift sets and such,” she said.

She says now is the time to focus on apparel, tech and small home appliances, and you don’t necessarily have to wait.

“We’re seeing so many sales right now, it’s a little but hard to know if we should buy now or later and so what I would say is be proactive. Look for deals on the things on your list. If you see a discount that feels deep to you like 30%, 40%, you might want to take advantage of that now. particularly if it’s something that might sell out, like a hot toy for example,” she said.

This holiday season, Americans are expected to spend more than $950 billion. That’s up slightly from last year. The average person plans to spend about $600. Trae says the key to saving is comparison shopping, don’t just settle for the first price you see.

“Make sure that you’re utilizing any savings opportunities. For example, use a deal site or two to look for coupons or cash back opportunities, tap into your memberships. So for example if you’re an AARP member, you can save significantly on all sorts of things.”

While you want to be careful about how much you’re spending. You also need to think about *what* you’re buying. You don’t want to waste money on a bad gift.

“A couple things that I think are really safe. I would say anything food related, everyone loves food, gift baskets and chocolates. Things like that are really safe,” Bodge said.

Of course if you really don’t know what to get that person who has everything. There’s one gift everyone loves.

“If you are not sure there’s nothing wrong about giving a gift card because you’re essentially giving your recipient the freedom to buy what they want for themselves,” she said.

If you have to ship a present, don’t forget to factor that into your budget too.

Finally, remember the old adage: it’s better to give than to receive. The key word *give*. Avoid shopping too much for yourself this time of year.

“We love shopping for ourselves during the holidays, and many of us that creates a trap, and we end up shopping a lot for ourselves and then bringing debt into the new year so set a budget for yourself as well,” Bodge

Trae also says when holiday shopping use the credit card that offers the best benefits for your needs, like ones that will earn you travel points.


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