Budget Shopping

Economic worries probably are probably behind these numbers.

A new survey says 87 per cent of us plan to shop within a budget this year. The survey by MyPoints -- an online shopping service found that 82 of consumers who responded also plan to spend less this year than last --with a budget of about $500.

A budget can really help with your holiday gift giving.

To stay on budget:

Make a holiday shopping list, keep it in your wallet and stick to it. It should include your maximum spending limits.

When you buy something - -cross the name off your list...and record how much you spent,

Keep a running total.

Don't shop when you are tired, stressed or hungry, you'll rush your shopping and overpay by buying the first thing you see.

And one final thing - use flyers to know your prices before you head out. They aren't junk mail - they are research.

I know a few families who do this pull names instead of buying for everyone. That means you can get one quality item instead of a lot of stuff. And for a holiday dinner, have everyone bring one dish to spread the costs around.

Here's a little psychology about holiday gift giving. When people give big - they do so to make themselves feel good not the receiver of the gift. That feeling is very short lived - and in January you are left with the grim reality of bills to pay.

Another idea for the holidays that can make you feel good - is give to charity - especially if the people on your list are already well looked after.

Another place to save is on those holiday events like parties and the spending around them.

Let's say you have a party to go to. Women often buy new clothes -but what about loaning a dress to a friend or borrowing an item?

You could even have a fun clothes or accessories swap party beforehand - invite the friends over ask everyone to bring an item to offer rather than buy something to wear once.

And think of cutting back on buying lunches or dinners to put the money into the holidays instead. The key is to move spending around -- not spend a lot more especially if it's money you don't have.

Digital picture frames

More and more digital picture frames are showing up on store shelves. They are an appealing way to view your pictures. Consumer Reports tested nearly two dozen digital frames both seven and eight-inch sizes. Some display short video clips, too. Prices on frames tested range from 120 to 250 dollars.

A couple of the frames have some new features. The GE specifically also doubles as a cordless phone," explains Rich Fisco of Consumer Reports.

The phone can be set up to display who is calling you.

A couple of the frames tested, like one Samsung, offer wireless connectivity which is a real plus.

But testers found the wireless option on this e-Starling frame too limited. You can e-mail photos from your computer or cell phone but the frame cannot access photos directly from your computer.

A new Smartparts frame lets you print out photos. But tests found the prints are expensive and the quality isn't the best.

"The most important feature in digital picture frames is, of course, the picture," points out Fisco.

Unfortunately, many manufacturers still haven't fixed the sideways problem: the picture fades when you look at it from an angle.

So placement in your room is critical. Testers found an eight-inch Westinghouse digital frame offers very good picture quality. It costs 120 dollars but we could only find it on-line.

This 8 inch from HP costs a little more -- 140 dollars --- but it's also the

Top rated performer and it's widely available in stores.

Here's another way to find the perfect digital picture frame for you. Bring your digital pictures into the store on a memory card and try the frames out. That way you'll find the frame that shows your pictures off best -- at the price you want to pay. It's the ultimate in trying before you buy.