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3 questions to ask yourself before spending money this holiday season

You may be spending less, but are you really saving money?
Bank Employee Sitting by a Million Dollars in Cash
Believe it or not, the answer might not always be look for the best sale.Bettmann / Getty Images

The holiday shopping season is on! Cyber Monday was almost a week ago, but there are still deals to be had — and many sales have been extended. Here's a new idea: Before you go out there and spend, ask yourself this: Should I even be spending it all? Or do I really need to buy this?

I get it — it's really hard to resist a great sale. But before you purchase that shiny new toy for you or someone you love, make a budget and make sure your entire gift list is within that budget. Here are my best tips for smart shopping this year.

1. Would I want or need it if it was full price?

I know it is great to see a super sale — and even harder to avoid crossing an item off your gift list and getting a little something for yourself. But even if something is marked 80% off, ask yourself if you'd want it if it was full price. If you'd resist the urge to click at full price, don't buy it at all. Just because you get something at a deep discount doesn't mean you're saving money. It just means you're spending less.

2. Is now the right time?

We all like to treat ourselves, but one of the great parts about buying a gift for yourself is you don't necessarily need that gift wrapped and under the Christmas tree. So do your research. If that item you really want to buy goes on mega sale after the holidays, wait it out and get the best deal then.

3. Have I checked the internet for deeper discounts?

And finally, use the tools at your disposal and be disciplined — and resist the urge to add on. Don't go for the stocking stuffers, all those little trinkets that you might want to buy to put on top of your gift. They really add up! Make a list of exactly who you need to buy for and what you need to buy. And once you've got that list nailed down and within your budget, it's time to look for coupons. Use your internet browser and look for coupons, deals and sign up for those mailing lists to get an even better price.

Those are my best tips for you to spend and save this season. Believe it or not, the answer might not always be look for the best sale. In fact, the answer might be to not spend at all.