For many people the last few months of the year are all about getting ready for the holidays. From organizing family dinners to festively decorating the house, the holidays are bustling with activity. One part of these preparations – and perhaps the most time consuming – is shopping. Whether you’re going to the stores or shopping online, you can avoid last-minute setbacks by following these suggestions: Before going shopping Set a budget that includes how much you’ll spend on gifts, decorations, and dinner menu ingredients. Make a list of the things you really need and prioritize them, so you won’t need to do all your shopping in one day. Research and choose stores and websites that carry the items you need. Plan to use coupons and discounts to save money. Watch for deals at stores and on websites. Shopping in stores Consider all sales announcements at your stores to determine the best shopping time that will let you save money by getting special deals.  When you’re out shopping and you have purchases in your car, be sure to keep your purchases out of sight so they’re not stolen. Save all your receipts for exchanges or returns. Shopping online Use  different web sites to compare prices on items you need. Check the user comments on the purchases you’re making. You can read about the quality of the product, and whether the company has reliable shipping. Be aware of the return policy and the shipping times. Only buy items on trusted sites that will protect your  personal information . Save confirmation numbers and receipts in case you have issues with your order or you never receive your items. Read this note in Spanish .

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Tips for Successful Holiday Shopping