Finance 101: After Christmas Savings

After the carols are over each year, you’ll start hearing a new chorus: Clearance, clearance, clearance!

Stores always stock up on all manner of goods before the holidays, and frequently have stock left over that they need to remove before spring stock arrives.

Here’s the 2010 guide to post-Holiday savings.

Holiday Decor and Sweets

Let’s start with the things that bring the biggest markdowns: holiday trappings.

The day after Christmas, you’ll see massive markdowns in all things Christmas. Wrapping paper, cards, ribbon, decorations, and Christmas candy.

This may sound counter-intuitive, but now is the time to buy this stuff! Get all the wrapping paper and cards you’re likely to need for next year. Stuff it in a closet, and be content that you spent dimes now instead of dollars next year.

The same goes for decorations. This way, your plastic Rudolph will spend some time in the garage before he gets planted on top of it. Besides, there’s one massive benefit to buying this stuff early—you won’t have to next year. It may sound like a small thing, but having one less item on your list of Christmas preparations can relieve a mountain of stress next year when you’re hopping from crowded store to crowded store.

If you have a sweet tooth, you might as well indulge it now. Fill your house with all the green and red M&Ms you can stomach. They may not have the same rainbow of colors but we promise, they’ll taste the same.

Anything you can buy with an expiration date far into the future is worth looking for. Now, keep in mind that this really only represents savings if you’re able to stock up on things you’d normally buy anyways. If you wouldn’t typically eat chocolate covered peanuts by the shopping cart full, then you’re just spending money you wouldn’t normally spend.

Next Year’s Christmas Gifts and More

Next, think about those people you buy the same thing for every year. If you’re going to wind up buying your Uncle Stu a tie no matter what, you might as well buy it early and on sale. If you plan on buying another gift set of glassware, now’s the time to buy it.

Finally, there are a lot of great sales on regular stock unrelated to Christmas. Now is the time to check your favorite retailers for great savings on things you’ve been planning on purchasing. Name a product, and chances are you can find a sale on it.

Companies have large stocks that need to go. Books, music, movies, electronics, clothes, you name it.

Start by checking your favorite retailers online and in store. Check your credit card rewards program for any sales at associated vendors. Big sales plus bonus rewards can add up to huge bonuses. One place you’re bound to find savings is winter style clothing. If you need a new coat, sweater, or pair of wool socks, then ‘tis the season for savings.

We’ve said it once before, but it bears repeating: the key to post holiday savings is to only buy things that you already need or were planning on buying.  Otherwise, you’re just using supposed savings as an excuse to spend more.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with picking up a new product you weren’t planning on buying, so long as you get reasonable use out of it. But whatever you do, don’t let holiday sales lure you into buying things you don’t need, don’t really want, or won’t use!

Topics: Smart Spending

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