These days, we can all afford to shop a little smarter and spend money where it counts. Inflation has costs rising all over the country and even online, causing many people to consider cutting their holiday spending budgets to make up the difference. The good news is that this isn't your only option.

Consumerism has become a plague of sorts. People spend hundreds of dollars on clothing, household items, toys, entertainment, and other purchases. Some are essential while others aren't, so it's important for people to first understand where and how they're spending so they can make the appropriate changes.

If you want to have a little extra to spend this holiday season, here are some tips and insights to help you shop smarter.

Know Where to Shop for Which Items

It can be tempting just to buy everything at one store and save the trip, but that may not be the most frugal option. Today, especially, inflation and pandemic-induced economic woes have stores raising prices in what seems like an arbitrary fashion to some but is usually related to supply and demand.

It's important that you know where you should shop for the items that you need in and around your home. For example:

  • Never buy electronics at drug stores or discount stores. They'll either be overpriced or low-quality in most cases. You can shop online for electronics, but be sure to choose a reputable retailer that includes warranties and other protections.
  • Don't buy toiletries at the grocery store. You can find these cheaper at discount stores, dollar stores, and even online. The same toothpaste you buy at Target or Wal-Mart for $4 could be as much as $7 or $8 at the grocery store.
  • If you like the nicer hand soaps and body products, sign up for a Bath & Body Works membership and watch for sales and coupons. You can often get soaps for as little as $2 each and big discounts on other items, too.
  • If you're shopping the freezer section at a dollar store or discount store, watch for actual deals and potential price gouges. For example, while you can usually get similar deals or better prices on frozen potatoes, you could pay more for frozen pizzas and convenience meals if you're not careful.

It can take a little work to figure out where you can get the best deals on the items you use most, but it's worth the effort. You'll find that you save a lot more than you think, and that can all be put towards your holiday spending.

Wait for Sales and Specials

As mentioned above with the Bath & Body Works tip, it's always a good idea to wait for sales, special deals, or coupons to buy things when you can. If you don't need something urgently, you could save a lot by waiting to make your purchase.

Alternatively, you can start planning ahead by knowing which sales and special offers are coming up. Then, you can wait to buy the items you need until that time and pocket the difference.

Granted, you might not be able to wait to buy toilet paper or laundry detergent. Check those pesky circulars that come in the mail for coupons, or use digital coupon apps from your favorite retailers. There are always little ways to save if you are patient and diligent.

Stock Up Now and Stop Spending

A great way to maximize your holiday budget (and beat the post-holiday bank account bust) is to stock up on the essentials now. Buy a few months' worth of all the non-perishables that eat into your budget, like toilet paper, paper towels, toiletries, cleaning products, etc.

Then, when you need more, you'll just have to get them from the pantry, basement, or wherever else they're stored. You can even save more by visiting a warehouse store like Costco and buying the items you use the most in bulk.

That said, make sure you're not buying items you don't necessarily need or spending more on bulk purchases than you can afford. There's no reason to have a six-month supply of every item you use, for example.

Set a Food Budget and Stop Ordering Delivery

Most people spend more than they need to, and often more than they should, on food purchases. This is either because they don't have a grocery budget or because they dine out regularly and spend a lot on ordering food, takeout, drive-thrus, and other quick meals.

This is a great place to save money that you can put towards holiday shopping. Consider switching to a discount grocery retailer like Aldi for the majority of your groceries. You can get a lot of the same high-quality items you'd find in other stores, and even some premium grocery items, at a fraction of the cost.

At the very least, stop spending $20-$50 a day on eating out. You might not realize it, but that adds up quickly. In a week, that's $100 to $250 on food that you didn't really need to buy.

Pay Bills Ahead of Time

This one is less about shopping, but it still pertains to maximizing your holiday budget by reducing what you spend between now and then. If you can pay ahead on your bills a little bit, you won't have to worry about them in November and December. That means you can focus on your shopping and gifting desires.

It's not always feasible to do this, but it can save you from a lot of holiday stress if you can. Even if it's just one or two things you can get out of the way, that's still an improvement. Plus, you'll save yourself from the risk of forgetting one or having a pileup after the holidays.

Rethink What Holiday Gifting Means to You

Instead of focusing on saving more money, perhaps you'll also want to take a minute to consider how you're spending money and whether you need a budget as big as you think. Maybe you'll get lucky and find discounts and savings on holiday gifts, too. However, that's not always a guarantee.

Consider gifts of time or experiences, as well as how you can make homemade gifts for people in your life. Are there things you can do, create, or offer that don't cost anything? Perhaps you'll start shopping on a smaller scale, budget-wise, for those in your life.

One great way to take advantage of your membership discounts for holiday gifting is to buy gift cards in bulk. You can often save as much as $20 or more on a multipack of gift cards and then hand them out to the people you care about.

Use Online Tools for Maximum Savings

Today, saving money when you shop online is easier than ever, thanks to the sheer number of tools and apps available. One example is the Comrade Browser Extension. Simply download Comrade and start shopping, and you'll get paid just for interacting with brands you're already interested in. Each impression is rewarded with cash back, which you can add to your holiday spending account.

Start earning for what you're already doing by downloading Comrade today.