It's hardly a secret that money is short, and prices high for Christmas, 1980. Herewith, the first of a series of money-saving ideas and tips.

From the "Inflation Fighter's Guide to the Washington Metro Area":

Make your own "after-Christmas coupons" for items which you know will go on sale after Christmas, and save yourself an average of 20 to 50 percent. Decorate the coupons and accompanying envelope and attach it to a small, inexpensive item geared to the gift or the recipient: a can of tennis balls, a set of wooden spoons for a cook, a jumprope for an exercise enthusiast, etc. Coupons might read like this, "Good for 1 pair of brown wool slacks, size 34, after Christmas."

Stock up on food staples and commonplace items in advance of the holiday dinner. While prices on items peculiar to holidays, like turkey and cranberries, go down, there is apt to be a corresponding subtle rise in prices on things like bread for the stuffing, eggs, etc.

Don't rush out madly with your holiday shopping. Start with a plan, and have a near-exact idea of what each person on your list wants and/or needs. Know how much you want to spend, and where you can get it.

Take advantage of deferred billing plans offered by some department stores on charge accounts. This is free credit.

And for next year, buy wrappings, cards, etc., after Christmas, when most of it is half-price. You'll save on sale, and you'll also beat a year's worth of inflation.

From "The Bargain Hunter's Guide to Washington":

Exploit student ID cards, senior-citizen cards, or military passes to get half-price tickets. Then treat a friend to a play or concert.

"Luncheon entrees usually are less expensive than dinner. Instead of taking someone to dinner, take them to lunch. You can really scrimp by ordering a less expensive item for yourself. With a little research, it's possible to find interesting restaurants with atmosphere, that offer entrees under $5.

"Consider places like White Flint Mall as a museum: look, but don't buy.

You can get ideas for gifts and a sense of quality, but then try to find the same, or similar, items elsewhere."