"I visit web sites. I compare them. And then I go through the stores and see who had the best deal," she said.
Pettinicchi isn't alone. Even though holiday sales are expected to increase by 4 percent over last year, experts say shoppers will continue to spend conservatively. Jeanette Pavini with Coupons.com says retailers are responding by unwrapping unique deals and promos. Combined with savvy shopping strategies, you could save hundreds.
"Any savings is free money and when you look at it in terms of free money, why would you not spend the little bit of time that it takes to find these deals?" said Pavini.
Pavini says don't be afraid to haggle online. If you fill your shopping cart, then virtually walk away, a growing number of retailers will try and lure you back with deals.
"They will send you an e-mail anywhere from two hours to 24 hours after you've abandoned the cart and offer you some type of an incentive," she said.
Think free shipping, or up to 20 percent off. Lindsay Sakraida with DealNews.com says there is a catch.
"You really do need to have an account with the store so that they know what e-mail address to contact you at," she said.
Also, keep in mind that popular items could sell out before you're able to check out. You can also bargain online via live chat. Many times, a retailer will match a competitor's price. And be sure to ask about deals you don't know about.
"Am I missing any deals or discounts? And if they come back and say no, then you say, 'OK, well can you offer me something?'" said Pavini.
A growing number of stores will also let you register for text-based promotions, a hot holiday trend. Sakraida says they'll clue you in on secret sales and only-for-you offers. Though you don't know when they'll pop up, there are still benefits.
"At the very least, when you sign up, you should get maybe 10 percent to 15 percent to 20 percent off just for registering," said Sakraida.
Finally, consider downloading location based apps like Foursquare and Shopkick.
"Both of these apps allow you to check-in when you're physically in a store, and sometimes you can get a special promotion just from being there," said Sakraida.
Pettinicchi recently abandoned her cart of clothes and scored a coupon for 20 percent off.
"Since the economy is still rough and I am trying to be frugal, it's definitely a way to save money," she said.