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3 Tips To Avoid Holiday Shopping Headaches

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Shopping during the holidays can be overwhelming -- whether it's finding the right gift or the right deal, it's sometimes hard to navigate the crowds and the "best practices" of holiday shopping.

Retail analyst Hitha Herzog offered some easy tips that can come in handy this Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the holiday season.

Take your phone.

"Customer is key this holiday season and it is all about mobile," said Herzog.

She describes smartphones as the "most important tool that you can use shopping." One big reason is using it to pay for gifts. Herzog says you can leave your credit cards at home and use alternate credit systems like PayPal. Going beyond convenience she says you won't have to worry as much with credit card fraud and there are options to help with paying off your balance.

Get organized.

Herzog said your phone will also be your "best friend" when it comes to organizing your budget and list.

One way to do that is through apps, like Santa's Bag. The app allows users to set and manage budgets for their personalized gift list.

Another app that is one of Herzog's favorites is Mint. "It has been around for a while, but this helps you figure out how much you're spending, where your money is going, and it will give you reminders to stop spending if it thinks you are going over budget," she explained.

Negotiate on price.

Retailers want to move old merchandise out of the store before the start of the new year, so Herzog said don't be afraid to negotiate. "If there is a deal of maybe 40 percent to 50 percent (off), go ahead and ask them if maybe they can take $10 off or 10 percent off," she recommended.

You could have success in getting a better deal, but the key to getting close to those negotiated discounts, according to Herzog, is with some kindness and a simple smile.

Black Friday bonus tips.

Stores are looking to clear out older merchandise before Black Friday, so some items will actually be discounted before the big shopping day, said Herzog.

And don't forget shipping. "If you think that you are going to buy something large, or you are going to make a big purchase, make sure that you are going on Black Friday or even Cyber Monday to get that free shipping," she advised.

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