Dec. 7, 2008 -- This holiday season, many Americans are looking for ways to cut down on spending, but getting great gifts for your loved ones doesn't have to cost a fortune. "Good Morning America Weekend" has teamed up with Shop Smart Magazine to help you with your holiday shopping.
Be like a shopping spymaster and prevent overspending with these super-secret ways to save!
Cut Out the Middleman
Boutiques carry handmade gifts from artisans and crafters, but you can save by purchasing directly from the source. Etsy.com is like the world's largest craft fair. Etsy is a venue for connecting buyers and sellers and is not directly involved in purchases, so there is no third-party mark-up on prices. These handmade gifts are unique, the prices tend to be reasonable. Since you buy directly from artists and crafters who set up their own shops on the site, you can also find out how an item was made.
Buy Refurbished Products
Save money on coveted electronics by buying a refurb. The refurb market is no longer filled with fly-by-nights. Trustworthy brands like Apple, Amazon and Sony are selling refurbished versions of their products. Also, check return policies. Crutchfield and Amazon.com offer full-refund guarantees on refurbs returned within 30 days. It's safest to buy refurbs from a reputable retailer or a manufacturer; you should not rely on your credit card for extra protection, since many don't cover refurbs.
Buy in Bulk
If you don't want to be a Scrooge and cross friends and neighbors off your shopping list, save your money by buying gifts as a pack and then individualizing.
Trick Kids With Size
Their "big ticket" gifts don't have to be big in price. Kids are often fooled by size -- thinking the more room presents take up under the tree, the more fun and flashy they are. So this year, buy big inexpensive gifts like art easels or snow sleds.
Google Your Way to Savings
There is no longer a need to ever pay full price. Before you check out online, Google "promotion code" and the name of the product to find additional savings.
Let the Internet Find Sales for You
These days, you no longer have to go in person or online to your favorite stores to find out when they're having a sale. Web sites like shopittome.com will do it for you. Email alerts will keep you in the know when your favorite stores are offering big markdowns.
Get Cash Back
Free-membership Web sites, such as Ebates.com and MyPoints.com offer cash back for making purchases that you were already planning to buy. Just sign into their Web site, then shop with their listed merchants, like Target, Banana Republic and Barnes and Noble. Plus, you can earn points that you can redeem for rewards or gift certificates on future purchases.
For more shopping tips go to www.shopsmartmag.org.