How to save money, avoid stress by starting your holiday shopping now

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(BPT) - Face it: holiday shopping can be pretty stressful. While you may look forward to the excitement of celebrating with family and friends, the crowded stores, skyrocketing prices and delayed shipping can make preparing for the holidays overwhelming and put a strain on your finances. The good news is, there are several tips and convenient shopping tools that can make buying gifts easier — and merrier — this holiday season.

Shop early and set a budget

What is the best way to tackle everything on your holiday to-do list and stay on budget? Start by shopping early and checking everyone off your gift list. Not only will you beat the rush, but you can take advantage of early sale items and get ahead of any potential shipping delays so you don't show up to your gift exchange empty-handed. Setting a realistic budget to spend for gifts — and sticking to it — is a sure way to help take the stress and strain out of the holidays. Since you've planned early, there's more time to find the perfect gift and best prices.

Look for flexible payment options

As your gift list grows, spreading your payments out over time can help you navigate holiday shopping costs and stay within your budget. PayPal Pay Later gives you the flexibility to break purchases into more manageable amounts and lets you select the option that works best for you and your budget. For purchases and gifts between $30-$1,500 you can select "Pay in 4," and for larger holiday purchases between $199-$10,000, you can select "Pay Monthly" and break the total cost into monthly payments over a longer period of time. Learn more at Paypal.com/BuyNowPayLater.

Shop online to save time and money

Want to avoid the hassle of long lines and crowds? Shopping online early is one way to help you stick to your budget and save time and gas money. Just be sure you’re ordering early, building in a time cushion in case of shipping delays. Plus, there are some amazing online deal-seeking tools like the PayPal Honey mobile and desktop browser extensions that automatically discover coupons and cash back deals. It's easy to install and will help you shop smart this holiday season. See JoinHoney.com/PayPal to learn more and sign up.

Join forces to gift creatively

To further extend your spending power, why not go in on a bigger gift for a special family member with other relatives? Perhaps your siblings or cousins would like to pool money to get your parents or grandparents something meaningful this year. Both PayPal and Venmo are easy ways to split gift costs and send and request money from family and friends. Consider options that offer a big impact for less expense, like planning a day outing together, attending an event or class, or even just preparing a special meal to celebrate your love for your family. Sometimes the gift of a shared experience is the most memorable of all.

Make this holiday season the best ever by planning ahead and maximizing your spending power. An early start this year will mean you'll have that much more time to relax and enjoy what matters most — spending time with those you love.