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Last-minute shopping? Five tips.

Last-minute shopping deals won't be as good as Black Friday. But last-minute shopping doesn't mean you have to pay retail, either.

Guy Peters, dressed as Santa Claus, waves to customers outside a store in northwest Oklahoma City on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011. Peters is an employee in guest services at the store. A surge of last-minute shopping on Christmas Eve is expected to top off an unexpectedly strong holiday shopping season.

Jim Beckel/The Oklahoman/AP

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Christmas is one day away – and you’re still not done with your holiday shopping?

The bad news is that your best chances to save probably came and went with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The good news is that you’re not doomed to pay retail. While last-minute shoppers have fewer deals to pick from, they can save money at checkout by remembering the basics…

  1. Check the ads. Read all of your local Sunday newspaper ads in one place by using ShopLocal.com’s cool Weekly Ads feature, or go directly to the website of the stores you plan to visit to find their latest ad. If you don’t see anything that jumps out at you this week, you’ll have one more set of ads to pick from this Sunday, Dec. 18.
  2. Use a price-comparison search engine. Once you figure out what to buy, take a minute to run it through websites like PriceGrabberBizrate, and Nextag to make sure you get it at the best price currently available – whether you shop online or in person.
  3. Check for coupons and promo codes. To ensure you’re not overlooking extra savings, first Google for [name of item] + “coupon” or “promo code.” Then check your favorite deals aggregator or our Deals page.
  4. Look for Cyber Monday deals. This past Monday, Dec. 12, I noticed that a few stores offered Cyber Monday deals. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see several big but short-lived deals this coming Monday, Dec. 19, since it’s the last Monday before Christmas and Hanukkah.
  5. Shop online. To save time and gas, I bought all of my gifts online this year. Just be sure to order ASAP and check a store’s holiday shipping cut-off date before you place an order with them.

– Karla Bowsher runs the Deals page of Money Talks News, a consumer/personal finance TV news feature that airs in about 80 cities as well as around the Web.


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