How to Make the Most of Low Prices . . . Without Ending Up with Cheap Clutter

Smart Post-Holiday Shopping TipsIt can be really tempting. Prices are so low right after the holidays that you just want to ‘stock up’ on things because you may need them later.

If you’ve ever gone to the mall with a short list of things you want to buy but came home with tons of bags, not because you wanted to buy stuff to feel good, but because you couldn’t resist the bargains, you know exactly what I mean. And it isn’t just the mall. Ever go to Wal-Mart the day after Christmas and walk through the aisles of gift baskets, chocolates, and other holiday items that are all marked down to 50%? Enough said.

Here’s a four-pronged approach that usually helps:

Avoid the situation if at all possible. Your Macy’s credit card will get you deep discounts at Macy’s, but it comes at the price of high interest rates if you don’t pay it off every month. Consider giving up the card, forgoing discounts in the long run, but buying what you truly need, not more than you can use because you had a savings pass in your pocket.

Decide in advance how much you’ll spend, and what you want to get. For example, if you know the spa baskets at your drugstore are going to be marked down to ridiculously low prices, decide before leaving home how many you’re going to buy. Be firm and don’t go over that limit!

Return things.  If you get home and realize you bought more tablecloths (yeah, I know, the price was unbelievable!) than you can ever actually use, both at home and for future gifts, return the others, no matter how cheap they were. All those $2.99 charges add up!

Another option is to realistically assess your likelihood of using all the gifts you received this holiday season. Are you really going to ever wear that bedazzled scarf your Grandparents got you? Have a strong aversion to Black Raspberry-scented body wash? Consider returning items you probably won’t use for store credit that you will. Most retailers have lenient return policies this time of year as long as an item still has tags or is unopened or unused.

Shop for next year. Post-holiday closeout sales are a great time to stock-up on cheap gifts for next year. After all, a holiday-themed candle from this season will be just as giftable next Christmas.

But be sure to make a shopping plan before you head out the door. Think about who you gave items to this year that will probably be available at a deep post-Christmas discounts – like gift baskets, or candles, or hand lotion. If your shopping list is likely to remain the same next year, then it makes sense to buy now when the prices are a whole lot lower. But resist the urge to over-buy just because you’re getting a great deal.

You CAN save money by shopping post-holiday sales. However, if you buy things just because the price is right, you’ll end up with a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear, a house full of ‘stuff’ and nothing to do with it.

Think ahead, decide what you need and be firm in your decision. When you get to the store, you’ll be able to get what you’ve already decided to get at low prices and not be tempted to buy everything else.

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