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How to stretch your Christmas gift money this year

The holiday shopping season is fast approaching, despite the decades-high levels of inflation. This year, families may not be slowing down on their spending — instead, they may find alternative ways to purchase gifts for their loved ones.

According to CNN Business, the National Retail Federation says it's projecting "sales for the combined November-December shopping months [to] grow between 6 percent and 8 percent this year compared with the 2021 holiday season, to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion."

Rather than cutting corners on gift purchases, NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay predicted "many households will supplement spending with savings and credit to provide a cushion," CNN notes.

"Nothing can stop Americans' love of celebrating the holidays — not even rising prices and economic uncertainty," said Kimberly Palmer, personal finance expert at NerdWallet. "That means many shoppers feel squeezed financially and are taking on more debt to handle the extra demands on their budget." However, Investopedia recommends budgeting tips to help consumers, so that they don't allow "debt to become the Grinch" that steals their joy this season.

In addition to paying off those credit card balances, it may also be helpful to set a holiday spending limit, as well as check around online for coupon codes to use, experts recommend.  

NerdWallet found that "nearly 7 in 10 Americans plan to shop Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales this year."