builderall

Here are the top 10 money saving tips for steering clear of holiday debt and starting the new year in better financial shape:

1. Plan it.†Before you shop online or enter the chaos of the shopping mall, take ten minutes at home to create a spending plan that lists who you need to buy for and how much you will spend.

2. Use discounted gift cards.†How would you like $100 worth of gifts for $80? You can purchase discounted gift cards for hundreds of online/offline retailers including the Apple Store, Radio Shack, Sears, Home Depot, and others. Discounts are usually 5%-30% off the face value of the card. Check out†GiftCardRescue.com†and†GiftCards.com.

3. Use social media.†Before you start shopping, start following your favorite retailers on Twitter and Facebook. Many companies offer discounts exclusively to their Twitter followers and Facebook friends. A quick search of their recent posts may reveal money-saving discount codes.

4. Barter via online chat.†When you're shopping online, look for a "chat" or "live help" button. Tell the customer service rep you'd like to shop with them but you want a 15% discount. Ask them to check with their manager or you will abandon your shopping cart and click over to their competitor. This won't work all of the time, but when it does it will†save you money.

5. Find discount codes.†I never buy anything online without trying to find a discount code first. You can download Wikibuy and it will AUTOMATICALLY search the internet for discount codes once you arrive on the checkout page of ANY SITE!!!†I've literally saved hundreds of dollars and it doesn't take more than a minute. You can also visit sites like†RetailMeNot.com,†SecretPrices.com, and†FreeShipping.org†to pull up all of the available discounts for your store. Use the discount code during the checkout process to get free shipping or to save 20% or more.

6. Get cash back.†If you're going to spend hundreds of dollars this year on gifts, you might as well try to get a few bucks back. I've used†Dosh†and Ebates†for some time and have received several rebate checks.

7. Create a budget for each person you want to buy a gift for.†Leave your credit cards and debit cards at home. Allocate an amount of money for each gift, and put that money in separate envelopes marked with the recipients' names.

8. Give group gifts.†When exchanging presents within large groups of people, even "token" gifts can really add up. Try a "white elephant" exchange, a secret Santa strategy, going in with co-workers on a gift for your boss, or going in with a relative to buy a group gift.

9. Make a promise that you won't buy anything for yourself.†When you're shopping for gifts, it's easy to be tempted to buy for yourself. Make this season about others, not you -- and remember that the items you want will likely be less expensive during the after-season sales.

10. Avoid the "15% off, buy more" phenomenon.†Stores often offer "great" deals when you sign up for their credit cards, but beware the high rate of interest these cards charge and ask yourself if you'll really be saving money in the long run. And don't spend more than you intended just because you're now getting a discount on your purchase.