Holiday Shopping, Without Breaking the Bank

The average American spends nearly $700 on holiday gifts. Shop smart with our money advice and save big. When it comes to buying presents for her loved ones, Asia Franks of New York City thinks of greeting cards: "I love buying them, writing a thoughtful message, then sending them!" For Jenifer Moore of Cincinnati, the thought process combines goodwill with practicality: "I want to get my family something special that won't have me facing debt in 2011." Moore's strategy is right on track, according to our experts. "Where we get ourselves into trouble with holiday spending is that we run out to the stores and buy the first thing we see," says Stephanie Rauterkus, an assistant professor of finance at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and blogger at A good rule of thumb is budget first, then find a deal that fits. Yes, you can express your gratitude without busting your budget. Follow these tips both online and in stores for a very merry debt-free season...
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