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4 Ways to Save Massively on Holiday Shopping

Photograph by Twenty20

Good for you, you've already started your holiday shopping. That right there means you'll save a bundle of money. Sure, last-minute deals crop up everywhere. But the savings gets gobbled up when, out of desperation, you pay for overnight shipping, professional gift-wrapping and eating out every meal. (It's almost Christmas! Who has time to cook?)

Here are 4 ways to save a ton in your gift-buying frenzy—not just for Christmas but any time of the year.

1. Start now

Really, don't wait until the last minute to start holiday shopping. Most of the best strategies require a little stewing time to really work. The upside is that you can do all of your shopping—all of it—online. Also, you don't have to decide now, just start looking and adding things to your cart. You can decide for sure later. In fact, it's better to wait (see No. 2).

2. Fill your cart. Walk away.

Not forever, just until the online retailer gets antsy about closing the deal and sends you discount codes, free shipping vouchers or other money-saving enticements. You'll have to sign up for an account and be logged in when you fill up the cart. But leave it there for a few days and see what shows up in your email inbox. You may suffer from gobs of opened tabs on your browser. But just you wait—50 percent off and free shipping will be worth the hassle.

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3. Sweeten the Deal

That's a play on words. What you need to do is download a browser extension called Honey. Kate McConnell over on Medium explains all the steps and what you need to know. (Like, it's free! And it works on Amazon! And, it's free!). As you're clicking around online, Honey applies the best coupon code automatically at checkout.

The other thing is that Honey does even better work on Amazon. There, it finds you the top deals on the products you're looking for (and only from top sellers, so you don't have to weed out shady companies, a huge hassle and time suck). Plus, the prices Honey is basing its list on include tax and shipping, so you're not getting hit with that at the very end (thereby throwing off your budget and wasting your time going back to find the real deal).

4. Get the Damn Coupon

Oh, you're that type? You don't want to do the download extensions and all that? Totally fine, we get it. There's a more analog version of getting the best digital coupon over at Rather Be Shopping. Bookmark the site and go there before checking out. Just type the store name in the search bar and figure out which coupon code will save you the most. A little more thinking than the automatic calculations and searches of Honey, but also a way to keep a third party from having such an easy way to track your spending and other consumer habit information, if that's something you'd rather avoid.

RELATED: Moms, Start This End-of-Year Checklist Before It's Too Late

And that's it. Basically, you're ready for the holidays.

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