-- Shop early and shop often, according to Michelle Madhok, online shopping expert and editor of shefinds.com. Stores are expected to have smaller inventories this holiday season, so don't delay if you have specific gifts in mind.
-- Fend off holiday madness by staying organized. Madhok suggests creating shopping lists and budgets by registering (for free) on rememberthemilk.com.
-- Take advantage of search engines that offer coupon alerts for savvy shoppers.
-- Frequently visit such off-price stores as T.J. Maxx and Marshalls to snag brand names and designer fashions at a fraction of department store prices.
''These stores get a lot of great holiday items, such as candles, makeup sets and gloves," according to Madhok.
Off-price stores typically receive shipments every day in small quantities, she adds, so it pays to be zealous in your shopping expeditions. Madhok strives to visit such stores daily to score the best deals.
-- Use free smartphone apps like Coupon Sherpa, Google Shopper and Shop Savvy to ensure you are getting the best price in town or on the Internet, according to helpsavemedollars.com.
The apps let you scan product barcodes and instantly find you the best price available as well as any coupons or rebates being offered.
And one of the latest free apps to make shopping a wintry breeze: Goggle Wallet. With this app, you can make purchases, redeem coupons and earn points at select stores with the single tap of your cell phone.
-- Scour the newspaper for sales, coupons and inserts.
-- "Like" the Facebook pages of your favorite retailers and follow stores on Twitter. Oftentimes, special deals and private sales will be announced. You can register on New York & Company's Faceboook page, for instance, for free trip to New York City.
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