Stack your cash this Christmas

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DICKINSON, N.D. - Daycare owner and mom Ivy Gonzalez has a small family in Dickinson, so she doesn't spend much on the holidays. But it wasn't always that way.

"Back at home, it was crazy. Because you have a million people to buy for. We never did secret Santa, we never did pick a name out. Everybody just bought everyone everything," says Gonzalez.

Gonzalez says she would easily rack up a thousand dollars - the average amount a shopper will spend this season.

Financial advisers say the biggest key to saving during the holidays is creating a budget.

"It's crucial to know your cash flow, have every dollar accounted for, and if they are coming up short, they, to realize they need to spend less throughout the year," says Jon Peterson, Waddell & Reed Financial Advisor.

Once you have that budget set, shop at thrift stores or have a secret Santa exchange.

If you're doing online hunting, there are websites like freeshipping.org that will help you cut down the costs of sending those gifts. Or, if you're at the mall, apps that will help you compare the most competitive prices.

Looking for a tree? Try waiting until the last minute to pick one out- the prices will be lower.

And for travelling:

"If you're booking now, you'll probably find better availability and better pricing if you're willing to travel on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, or New Year's Eve, or New Year's Day type thing," says Craig Steve, Travel Agent, All American Travel.

But advisers say sometimes the best gifts come from the heart.

"Just enjoy each other. And every moment," says Gonzalez.

U.S. retailers are expecting holiday sales to increase by about two percent this year.