Have you begun writing up your ‘Christmas gift’ list? Or started discussing where you’ll be having family Christmas lunch or dinner this year? Early planning can save you loads of money in the long run, while also eliminating additional stress over the busy festive season.

Holiday shopping can be a nightmare – you have to brave crowded malls, overpriced items and Christmas carols on repeat. Your shopping experience doesn’t have to be that way this year – try these tips to shop smarter and have a happier holiday shopping experience.  

Plan ahead – knowing what you want to buy beforehand, allows you time to plan and research where the best places are to purchase items from and if you’re lucky you may even find some early specials.

Save petrol by shopping online – avoid crowded shopping centers altogether by doing bulk of your shopping online. Just make sure that you keep delivery costs in mind, or make use of stores like Teljoy where the delivery and set-up is included with the purchase. Also just make sure you order your gifts far ahead of time.

Group your shopping trips – if you have to go to brick and mortar stores to do some of your holiday shopping, figure out where all the stores you need to visit are and plan the route that will involve the least driving and maybe even an area or a mall that has all the stores you need.

Try different purchases methods – one of the best ways to shop smart this season is to avoid spending more than you’ll be able to pay off.  If you don’t have the cash upfront consider rent-to-own and get the things you need at a fraction of the cost with added benefits.  This also offers you the financial flexibility to upgrade, downgrade or cancel at any time to suit your financial situation.

Don’t be afraid of buying the same gift twice – if  you find a gift that you know several people on your list would enjoy, don’t be afraid to buy it in multiples. This cuts down on your shopping time and if the store is offering any kind of “buy 1, get the second 1 at a discount” deal, that’s even better!

Never shop on weekends – weekends are inevitably the busiest shopping days during the holiday season, so if you want to avoid the crowds, try shopping on weekday evenings – the shops even open later during the festive season so you don’t have to rush after work.

Shop alone – while shopping alone doesn’t sound as fun as bringing along a friend, it will save you time and potentially prevent you from being influenced to make big spur-of-the-moment purchases.