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5 money-saving hacks to get you the best holiday deals

Alyssa Pry
·Personal Finance Reporter

Shopping for the holidays is in full swing and consumers planning to spend big: according to NerdWallet, the average holiday shopper plans to spend $776 this year. If you want to lower your bill and avoid landing yourself in debt, Kimberly Palmer, author of “Smart Mom, Rich Mom,” offers some automatic ways to save this holiday season.

We used to have to do all the work ourselves with cutting coupons and really putting a lot of time into saving,” Palmer says. “But now a lot of it’s automated, so you don’t even have to think about it.”

1: Use price comparison apps

You want to make sure you’re getting the lowest prices on the items you’re eyeing for holiday gifts. Palmer recommends using an app like Shopsavvy, which allows you to scan the barcode of an item on your phone. The app will then show you if there’s a lower price at a nearby retailer.

If you’ve already made your purchase but see a lower price elsewhere, Palmer says it’s not too late—many retailers allow you to show your receipt to get a refund for the difference.

2: Track Amazon prices

Palmer says Amazon doesn’t offer price matching, but you can still track the price with camelcamelcamel.com to get price alerts when items on your list drop.

“This way you’ll know the best time to actually make the purchase,” she says. The website will also show you price history of an item, so even if it’s not on sale right now, you’ll be able to see times in the past when it has been on sale, and plan to purchase around the same time. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, here are 7 more ways to save.

3: Automatically scan for coupons

Coupon clipping may be a thing of the past, but you can install a browser extension like Honey, which does all the work for you.

“Honey is automatically scanning for coupons for lower prices, and it actually applies the coupons automatically so you don’t even have to think about it,” Palmer says. If you want to ensure your online shopping purchases actually arrive at your home, here are 4 ways to avoid package thieves.

4: Earn cash back

Palmer says the holiday season is a great time to cash in on bonus points you’ve accrued throughout the year. Additionally, your bank may have a bonus mall which offers additional discounts and more cash back than purchases from outside retailers. Both Chase and Wells Fargo offer these services for card holders, Palmer says. If you have a credit card, avoid these three common traps that get you to overspend.

Remember, don’t get overwhelmed and don’t overspend! “One thing you want to watch out for is letting these shopping apps and the ability to save and earn cash back entice you to spend more than you intend,” Palmer says.