Tips to save money and stress for the shopping-weary

Ask stores to hold items for you. Many have \'order online/pickup in store\' options. (AP Photo/The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Hyosub Shin, File)

WASHINGTON — Procrastination isn’t always a bad idea when it comes to Christmas shopping, in fact, it can save you some money and sanity.

Stores are usually less crowded on Christmas Eve and often retailers begin their post-Chirstmas sales the night before, so it’s possible to get some good deals last minute, according to USA TODAY, which put together a list of shopping tips.

With just over a week remaining before the big day, timing is important when it comes to shopping. Retailers tend to be least crowded first thing in the morning when they open, and late at night before they close — especially those stores with extended hours.

Another tip: Try taking a day off work and hitting the stores mid-day.

When it comes to free shipping, nearly 90 percent of retailers offer free shipping at some point during the holiday season. However, in most cases, shoppers have until Dec. 20 or Dec. 22 before free shipping promotions end.

Some products, including bikes, HDTVs and desktop computers, are selling at their best prices for the month of December. Afterward, the prices are likely to go up until May, USA TODAY reports.

And lastly, cross people off your list after shopping for them. Second-guessing earlier purchases only strains your budget and your stress.

More tips from USA TODAY’s Jayne O’Donnell:

WTOP’s Bob Kur contributed to this report. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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