Stick to a Holiday Budget With These Savings Secrets

VIDEO: Save Money While Shopping for the Holidays
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With a wife and three young children, including a 5-week-old baby girl, Joel Steinhaus has a mighty long shopping list this holiday season.

According to the National Retail Federation, the average US family will spend $804 on gifts this holiday season and the Steinhauses plan to stick to a similar budget.

"We want it to be festive," said Steinhaus, 32. "[But] we are concerned about finances obviously because you know, there's a new mouth to feed."

Holiday shopping tips: secrets to saving big bucks.

How last-minute shoppers can still save big.

Tips for holiday shopping on a budget.

To help the family maximize their giving - without maxing out their credit cards - ABC News' "Real Money" team introduced the Steinhauses to personal finance expert Vera Gibbons.

Gibbons said that by starting early and shopping smart with the following tips, the Steinhauses could score hundreds in potential savings.

1. Go for gift cards. Apps like Raise and Gift Card Granny let you buy gift cards at discounts of up to 30 percent off. You can give them as presents or use them yourself to double up on discounts at the store.

For example, using a gift card to purchase a 46-inch Samsung LED TV at RadioShack - originally $699.99 and now on sale for $479.99 - can save you an additional $62.

2. Compare deals. Apps like RedLaser, ShopSavvy and Buyvia instantly let you see prices at thousands of retailers, helping you score the lowest price.

"You're saving time. You're saving money. And you've got everything right there at your fingertips," Gibbons said.

3. And finally, know when to shop. Gibbons said deals were starting earlier and earlier this season - so, forget Black Friday. The biggest price drops are expected to start the week before Thanksgiving.

ABC News' Michael Koenigs contributed to this story.

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