Stretch Your Holliday Dollars: Safe and Smart Shopping Tips

The recent Consumer Reports' holiday shopping poll showed that 76 percent of Americans plan to cut back on their holiday spending this year ... including spending on gifts. With the economy being so tough, everyone wants to make sure they're stretching their holiday dollars as far as they can. Here are some tips:

1. Do your homework

Make a list of every person you’re shopping for and the approximate amount you'll spend.


Check newspaper ads for coupons and Black Friday deals.


Go online to some of the free coupon sites. At, you can search by store for discount codes for online shopping or printable coupons to bring to the store.

For advance info on stores’ Black Friday ads, check out and

2. Get some intel


If you’re after a hot item that will have an especially low “door-buster” price on Black Friday, befriend a store manager ahead of time to see how many units they’ll have.

While you’re at it, ask how they’ll thwart the line-jumpers. Will they have a security officer? Will they hand out numbers or tickets to the people in line?


Don’t forget to familiarize yourself with the floor plan of the store.

3. Stay organized


Keep all your receipts in an envelope labeled “CHRISTMAS RECEIPTS.” 

Get gift receipts to include with your presents.


Obtain a receipt for every gift card, and keep it with the card in case there’s a problem.

If you’re applying for a rebate, make sure you keep the rebate form, UPCs, receipts, etc. in one safe place.


Make a note of the stores’ returns policies.


4. Stay safe


Women -- leave the floppy tote bag at home and carry a purse with zippers and inside pockets.

Guys – watch your wallet.

Bring only the cash, identification and credit or debit cards you need for this shopping trip.

After the holidays, check your credit card statements carefully.

5. Or … just stay home


You can find some great deals online, especially on electronics.

Compare prices at, or other sites, and get online coupons at,, and other sites.


Be sure to check the shipping rates and return policies when comparing prices.

Make payment only on a legitimate, secure site (it should start with https:// rather than http://).

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