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Five fool-proof tips to shop smarter (and save $$$) this Christmas.

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of Christmas jingles in the distance, combined with our hard-earned pennies being tipped down the drain.

Oh yes, it’s the time of year that makes most women sweat bullets – but it doesn’t need to be.

Thanks to Kathy Sheeran – shopping aficionado and mastermind behind ShoppingConfessions.com.au – our nights of stress-filled late trade shopping are numbered. So please, crack open the champagne and hand me a Xmas BonBon.

Our nights of stress-filled late trade shopping are numbered. (Image: iStock)

With these five simple, bloomin' SMART shopping tips, we're all set to make this Chrissy a relaxed, money-savin' affair.

1. Make a list and check it twice.

It sounds obvious, but hear Kathy out.

Making a spreadsheet which lists every person you need to buy for, and the budget for their present, "will not only save you time, it will save you money," Kathy says.

"If you go shopping with a list and a number, you will stick to that budget."

Going in unprepared is a cardinal sin as far as Christmas shopping goes.

"If you don’t make a thorough list, you will impulse buy, and you will spend more than you had originally planned."

You heard the woman, hop on Excel and get prepared people!

2. Start early. (Like... right now.)

If you have any hope of snagging a bargain, get shopping RIGHT NOW. Kathy explains that the closer we get to Christmas, the more prices are hiked up.

“Things are on sale now," Kathy says. "As we get closer to Christmas, retailers don’t need to discount items. Stop procrastinating and just do it."

The last thing you want is to spend the few days leading up to Christmas fretting over gifts, so Kathy advises you get your present shopping out of the way ASAP.

"Knowing that you’re organised allows you to focus on the good stuff, like food and alcohol... and celebrating." 

Hear, hear!

3. Shop online, not in-store.

Yep, in utterly delightful news, the shopping expert says you need to ditch traditional shopping altogether. (Anything I can do in my pyjamas while drinking a glass of wine is A-OK by me Kathy, say no more.)

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Anything I can do in my pyjamas while drinking a glass of wine is A-OK by me. (Image: iStock)

"Don’t drive around looking for a car spot in peak hour, you’ll only get agitated,” Kathy says. "You'll be too worried about getting home and making dinner and so on, rather than focusing on the job at hand.

"Online shopping is a lot easier and less stressful, leaving you with lots more time to browse. You're almost guaranteed to do less impulse buying."

If you're just not an online shopper, Kathy advises you go on a public holiday when the queues are much more manageable, like Melbourne Cup Day.

4. Use cashback sites.

Kathy says cashback websites, which reward you for online shopping, are a good way to save money heading into Christmas time.

“I've made over $300 in the last couple of months," she says. "And that's just from doing my normal shopping."

She tells me while cashback sites are huge in the US and UK, they've been slower to kick off in Australia, but that's slowly changing. Kathy recommends CashRewards, which connects shoppers with over 1000 retailers and offers up to eight percent cash back. 

“Within a year you might have one thousand to put towards your Christmas shopping or even a holiday.” 

5. Don't be afraid to ask.

It's time to swallow your fear and ask to speak to the manager, you guys.

“A lot of consumers think that retailers will just price match, but they will actually price beat by up to 10 percent," says Kathy.

"Don’t be afraid to speak to the manager and ask if they’ll actually price beat the item. Nine times out of 10 they will actually say yes, and the worst thing they will say is no."

What are your tips for saving money this Christmas? Let us know in the comments...

Tags: christmas2016 , lifestyle , money , shopping
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