The holidays are a joyous time of year marked by giving, celebration, and peace on earth.

Oh, who are we kidding? It’s a time for shopping, shopping and more shopping!

Luckily, if you’re among those in the spirit of the season and ready to give, there are plenty of ways to put a smile on everyone’s face and still save money – something you will, undoubtedly, be thankful for come January.

It goes without saying that there are more shopping opportunities today than ever. And with these opportunities come excellent deals, discounted prices, and other holiday treats like free shipping.

So what can you do to do shop and save to your heart’s content?

For starters, pretend you’re still in school and always do your homework. With the World Wide Web at your fingertips, there is no excuse for not doing your research, comparing prices and services, and getting word-of-mouth recommendations through your favorite social media channels.

Once you’ve done your research you’ll want to make a list of everyone you’re going to be shopping for in the coming weeks. List making is really easy these days because of all of the excellent apps that can be used on your smartphone or tablet.

No matter how you keep track, be sure to take that list with you so that, when you need it, you have it for handy reference. There’s nothing worse than wasting time running around needlessly returning or exchanging items. While you’re at it, make sure to take all of your coupons and, if you can, sign up for mobile coupons that you can redeem on your smartphone. They are truly the upmost in coupon convenience.

If you’re going to do some in-store shopping, make sure that you have reviewed the websites or printed flyers from the stores you plan to visit. Many stores will honor a competitor’s coupon or advertised sales price. In some cases, they will even give you a lower price. Use them with caution, however, as it really doesn’t make sense to drive 55 minutes to save $2.79.

Another tip is to avoid, whenever possible, shopping for children’s presents with children present. Taking kids along, even the older ones, when you go holiday shopping is probably going to scar someone for life, and it’s probably going to be you. On the other hand, if you’re shopping for gifts for other adults, bring them along but make sure you give every child a job to do when you reach whatever store you’re going to visit. That way you might actually be able to get some shopping done and leave with at least half of your senses intact.

At the end of the day, setting a budget for everyone before you start shopping may ultimately be the best advice for any holiday shopper. If you put together a list of everyone for whom you need to shop, you’ll have a much better idea of what your total holiday shopping budget looks like and if it’s financially palatable or even feasible.

While it’s easy to quickly become financially and emotionally overwhelmed by the holidays, there’s no better remedy for this stress than to save a few hundred (or even a few thousand) dollars because you did your homework, kept your wits about you, and found scores of holiday savings opportunities.

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