With December getting underway this week, we've officially begun the Christmas countdown. While the holiday season can be a magical time, it can also prove prohibitively expensive. 

But shopping doesn't have to break to the back. The savvy shopper can get through December with enough money to pay January's rent. Here are seven quick tips that'll help you save this Christmas shopping season. 

1. Plan ahead 

If you know what you're getting and where you're getting, then you've got a firm grip on how much you're going to spend. Making a list is a good physical reminder of your spending and gives you a pretty good rough outline of how much you're expecting to spend.

2. Make a budget 

This is an obvious one, but look at your finances and come up with a figure you're willing to spend. Then don't go over that number.

3. Get an early start

The early birds typically spend far less than those rushing out to get gifts done at the last second. Good Housekeeping reported that procrastinators spent about $250 more, citing study from the American Research Group.

4. Strike a deal

This might not work for the shy shoppers out there, but sometimes it's worth seeing if the price is flexible on items in stores. There's also a method for bartering online, according to CBS News. They recommend using a retailer's "live chat" function to "tell the customer service rep you'd like to shop with them but you want a 15 [percent] discount." If that doesn't immediately work, "ask them to check with their manager or you will abandon your shopping cart and click over to their competitor." It's certainly bold, but it just might work.

5. Make a gift

If you're crafty, a nice homemade gift can be original and thoughtful. Great homemade gifts can range from candles, to custom picture frames to a fresh batch of a favorite baked good.

6. Don't treat yourself

A whopping 55.8 percent of shoppers "self-gift" during the Christmas season, according to the National Retail Federation. These self-gifters spent some $130 on themselves. That's a nice chunk of change you can save.

7. Peruse for deals

There are a whole host of sites out there to help shoppers save a buck. Check out Retail Me Not, Brad's Deals or Promocodes.com to see if you can score a good deal on the perfect gift.