Consumers locate their inner Scrooge

Coutney Hamilton’s mound of credit card debt turned her into a first-rate penny pincher this year.

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Hamilton, 29, a legal secretary from Los Angeles, has $200 to stretch across six gifts.

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“I’m hard-pressed for some cash, and I’m trying to live beneath my means.”

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Frugal gift-shopping is nothing new, but it will likely become the norm this year, recent consumer research indicates.

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Although the plastic rectangles will still be among the most popular presents.

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For many facing tighter budgets, paring back the number of people they give gifts to is the first plan of a attack.

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People on the fringe of a gift giver’s social circle, such as teachers, should expect cookies or nothing at all this year.

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Groups are going in together on gifts so individuals won’t have to shell out on their own.

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Some shoppers trawl sales for gift items or set aside case each week for presents to avoid overspending with credit cards.

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