Money Matters: Smart Holiday Savings

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Believe it or not, it is possible to save money while you spend on christmas.

Stephanie Taylor Christensen of Minyanville says there are smart shopping strategies you can employ to spread holiday cheer without draining your bank account. Here are some of her ideas for saving money and helping your bottom line.

1. Stay away from layaway.

While it can help you make a purchase by spreading the payments out it does come at a price. Walmart charges $5 after a customer puts a 10% down payment into the layaway purchase. And if you cancel the layaway purchase or don't pick up the purchase on time there's a cancellation fee to pay.

2. Know the refund policy.

Not all stores offer full refunds for returned items, even with a receipt. Know the store's policy before you buy. Restocking fees can be 15% of the purchase price.

3. Clean our your drawers.

Thanks to the Card Act of 2009, retailers must honor gift cards for five years from the date of issue, regardless of the amount of money on the card. Dig through your drawers and see if you have any old gift cards and use them toward your gift purchases. You can also sell gift cards at sites like Plastic Jungle. And if you have a few dollars left on a gift card, you can donate it to Gift Card Giver. It will be added to other proceeds from donors to buy a gift for a person in need.

4. Strategize your card use.

If you're to use your credit card, use the card that will pay you the most for your shopping this holiday season. Discover card offers 5% cash back on dining and fashion purchases this holiday season on the first $300 you spend.

5. Add yourself to the list.

Put some money in your stocking for an interest bearing online savings account or another fund. It can be an emergency fund, kid's college fund, or retirement fund.

Just get in the habit of saving while giving and your have the best of both worlds, making people happy and making your financial future more secure.


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