From planning your purchases to shipping them out, there are so many opportunities to save.


Holiday shopping rarely comes without stress. From navigating crowded stores and scavenging for high-demand products to scrambling for last-minute gifts and dealing with shipping delays, the whole process can feel like an episode of retail-themed Survivor. On top of it all, the financial burden from holiday shopping only adds to the stress, while also feeling impossible to avoid.

However, there are ways to actually save money while spending it this holiday season so that you can feel more in control of your expenses. To soak up all the money-saving advice we need right now, we tapped 13 different finance and shopping experts. Below, read all their best tips for saving on holiday shopping and gift yourself a little less money stress this year.

Prep Before You Shop

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Sort Promo Emails Like A Pro

Email subscribers often score exclusive deals, but no one wants to trawl through a flooded inbox. So create an email account that's solely for these promos, then add filters for specific gifts. If you want a deal on a new PlayStation, say, create a filter for the words "PlayStation 5" and "PS5" so emails with those terms get automatically forwarded to your regular inbox. —Anna Barker, personal finance expert and founder of LogicalDollar

Track Your Spending Easily

Use the Santa's Bag app (free; iOS) to store shopping lists in one place. Once you add everyone on your list (via your contacts or manually), you can save links to the gifts they want. Plus, it keeps a running tab of what you've spent right alongside your budget, so you can see how much you have left. —Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert at NerdWallet

Budget With Gift Cards

Set a budget and purchase gift cards for that amount. When the balance hits zero, it's time to stop spending.—Colleen McCreary, chief people officer at Credit Karma

Shop On Green Monday

Green Monday, when many retailers slash prices to sell off holiday inventory, falls on December 13 this year. (It's also called Cyber Monday 2.) You'll often see discounts of 25 to 50 percent. And it's one of the last days you can choose free standard shipping and get the items before Christmas.—Shannon Vissers, shopping analyst at Merchant Maverick

Time Your Purchases

Electronics are typically cheaper on Black Friday, while clothing tends to be cheaper on Cyber Monday. Fitness gear, activewear, and bedding are definitely less expensive in January—so if someone on your list wants any of those, get them a gift card for the current retail price. That way, if they buy the item when it's discounted, they'll have some money left over. —Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst at DealNews

Use Store Apps

Download the store's app before you shop. I've seen app-exclusive deals of 50 percent off or more. You can expect deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but also check the apps on weekdays, when many stores offer app-exclusive flash sales.—Kristen Gall, president and shopping expert at Rakuten

Save on Electronics

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Consider Refurbished

Nervous about preowned? Don't be. Refurbished products are inspected to help ensure they're in good shape. Check out the Amazon Warehouse, which sells like-new open-box products; I've seen discounts of up to 70 percent, often just because the packaging is damaged. It's a good place to look for cellphones, tablets, and TVs. In Apple's Certified Refurbished store, products are up to 15 percent cheaper and come with a one-year warranty. —Brittney Castro, certified financial planner with Mint

Opt For Last-Gen Tech

You don't have to splurge for the newest model. Phones, tablets, and laptops that are one or two generations old can be at least $100 cheaper. Many have most of the same features as new models, and if the item works on the same operating system, you'll usually be able to get some of the new upgrades. —Julie Ramhold 

Think Outside the (Gift) Box

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Hack Your Subscription Boxes

I take unused items from my subscription boxes and create gift bundles. My niece and cousin love getting beauty bags from me, and I feel better that I didn't waste a nail polish or lipstick. —Lauren Anastasio, certified financial planner at SoFi

Check Your Credit Card Perks

American Express Platinum cardholders can donate points to a charitable organization on behalf of a loved one (you can choose from more than 950,000 U.S. nonprofits). If you have a hotel-branded credit card, it may come with a certificate for a free night. Or you might be sitting on a stash of points you can give someone for a hotel stay or a flight. —Benét Wilson, senior editor at the Points Guy

Cut Costs Without Coupons

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Use A Private Browser

It keeps your data hidden so retailers don't change prices on you. A standard browser records your searches and online activity through cookies, which are then shared with website hosts. Based on your previous purchases and what you've been willing to pay for certain items, retailers can manipulate prices to maximize profits. —Andrea Woroch, family budgeting expert at

Scroll Social Media

Influencers and brand ambassadors often share discount codes around the holidays. And you don't even have to follow each one; if you go to the brand's page, they'll likely be sharing these posts. —Fo Alexander, certified financial educator and founder of

Find Look-Alikes

Put "dupe" behind the product name you're searching for online. You may score a bargain knockoff. I've found designer bag dupes for $50 (versus the retail price of nearly $4,000!) and look-alike boots for around $60. —Trina Small, founder of the lifestyle blog Hey Trina

Just Ask

I've gotten 20 percent off designer boots simply by asking the sales associate. I also got free shipping from a home goods store by calling customer service, and 20 percent off office supplies by using the live chat. —Andrea Woroch

Price-Match The Smart Way

I use browser extensions like Popcart. As you browse, it alerts you if there's a better price elsewhere. Google Shopping also offers extensive price comparisons and can send you a price drop alert. For brick-and-mortar stores, I like the Capital One Shopping app (free; iOS and Android). It searches retailers like Walmart, Target, and Costco for the best deals. Pull up those apps in the store, and they may be willing to price-match. —Trae Bodge, shopping expert at

Ship Without Stress

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Tap Cards For Free Shipping

Some American Express, Mastercard, and Chase cards come with a complimentary ShopRunner membership, which offers free two-day shipping and free return shipping at more than 100 online retailers. —Brittney Castro

Know When To Mail It

The pandemic has made shipping messy and busy, and that's expected to continue. Generally USPS' Priority Mail boxes arrive fastest (in one to three days) and are a better value for gifts up to 70 pounds. For anything larger, UPS is usually preferable. I'd also use them for more valuable gifts because I've had better experiences with their tracking system. To get the lowest ground price, you generally want to send gifts by December 15 to avoid extra costs. —Shannon Vissers

Choose Curbside

Save on shipping fees at checkout by using the "pick up in store" option, which retailers ramped up during the pandemic. You might even land extra discounts by going this route. Last year, for example, shoppers who picked up items got an additional 10 to 15 percent off at certain department stores, and some stores even offered gift cards. —Trae Bodge