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8 money-saving tips for last minute Christmas shopping

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

How to save on toys

Still have Christmas shopping to do? You aren't alone. Save some money on your holiday gifts with these tips and tricks for saving on toys.

Woman shopping for Christmas

People everywhere have been faced with a problem this year: how to shop for the holidays without spending a bundle. Indeed, many, many people are faced with stretched-thin budgets these days. So, saving money is more important than ever.

With the Christmas less than a week away, you are probably hustling to finish your shopping without blowing your budget. Don't stress! There are many ways to save money on the things you want to buy. Here's how you can get what you need for cheap!

Check the ads

Black Friday isn't the only time when stores run great sales. In fact, with the end of the year (and the holiday season!) fast approaching, many stores are running big sales now. But how can you know where to head for the very best sales? The internet is your best friend for this. Most stores have their sale fliers available on their websites. And don't forget to check the websites of unexpected stores like drugstores and department stores for sales too.

Look for coupon and coupon codes

Coupons are all over the internet these days, both for in-store and online. Check out the store website for in-store coupons and some retailers, like Borders and Barnes and Noble, will also send you coupons in your email.

Found the perfect item online? Great! With two day shipping, you can still buy online and get your presents in time. But, before you click to order, do a quick Google search for coupon codes. So many stores have them these days and they are shared across the internet.

Know your features

Extra features and perks can drive the cost of items up. But does your child actually need all the bells and whistles? If there is a specific toy that you are looking for, make sure you know what models are available so that you don't accidentally buy a souped up version when you don't need to.

Be open to second-hand

Thrift shops and second-hand stores might not be what you consider the ideal place to purchase presents, but sometimes you can find new or nearly new items there at a heavy discount over the cost of purchasing new items. Look for things like ride-on toys and playhouses, which are less likely to show a lot of wear.

Think outside the box

Sometimes, kids are more interested in a concept then a toy itself. For instance, they might think they want a pricey dress-up clothes-filled trunk. While it's a great active play-toy, you can create your own dress up kit, using an inexpensive storage box and a combination of vintage clothes, scarves and inexpensive costume gear from party and craft stores. The bonus: The resulting outfits will be way more creative.

Check the discounters

Sure, you might not normally hit the stores that sell overstocks of items. But they can be a fantastic source for toys with drastically reduced prices. If you have a few more presents to buy, then be opened minded and check the discount stores too ... you never know what you might find.

Head to Craigslist

Looking for something specific? Check your local Craigslist to see if anyone is selling the item in your area. You never know what you might find.

Save on stuffers

Stocking stuffers can cost a bundle. And really, how many of us actually plan and budget for that aspect of gifting? Probably not a lot of people. If you are looking to save on stuffers, go cheap! Your local dollar store is a great place to start looking. Also, don't forget to check the dollar-racks when you first enter Target. Bonus: Kid's mittens can be bought for roughly $1 at Target too! What a great stuffer would that be?

More Christmas gift ideas:

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