Make the Most of After-Christmas Sales

by Deana Ricks and Angie Zalewski

Wouldn't it be great if the good things of Christmas could last all year long? Well, we may not be able to enjoy a cheery fire and eggnog in July, but after-Christmas clearance sales can make your wallet jolly month after month. Here's how to take advantage of the year's best sales:

Buy for next Christmas: Seasonal items like holiday kitchenware and decorations will have the deepest discounts. If you ran out of gift wrap or cards this year, stock up for next year when these items go on sale for 75% off. Buy discounted solid colored wrap to use on other gifts throughout the year. Holiday fabric for tablecloths and next year's craft projects is also a good deal.

Buy gifts for all year round: Toys on clearance are great for birthday parties throughout the year. Shop after-Christmas sales for gifts to give to your loved ones on their birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Store them under the bed or in the closet labeled with your friend or relative's name. Make a note on the new year's calendar that you already have a gift for their birthday.

Watch expiration dates: Prepackaged gift sets like ice cream sundae toppings or barbecue sauce packs are great gifts to give during the year as long as they are free from holiday markings and expiration dates.

Don't buy what you don't need: Even if it's on sale, if you just don't need another set of lights, don't buy them. Pass also on items, that though on sale, are still over-priced or not useful. Buying what you don't need is never frugal.

Examine sale items carefully: After being handled by many Christmas shoppers, some items may show their wear. Be sure they are not damaged. This is especially important if seconds or irregulars are mixed in with the clearance sales.

Get the 411: Find out the store's policy on returns and exchanges. Most sales on after-Christmas clearance merchandise are final, but the store should still settle complaints on broken or defective products.

Come early or stay late: Consider shopping at the beginning or end of a clearance sale. You will generally find the best selection when the sale begins but the lowest prices as the sale ends.

These tips and more can be found in Cheap Talk with the Frugal Friends: Over 500 Tips, Tricks, and Creative Ideas for Saving Money by Angie Zalewski and Deana Ricks (Starburst Publishers 2001). Angie and Deana are founders of the Frugal Family Network, Inc and have been featured in the LA Times, Washington Times, and Modern Maturity. Cheap Talk with the Frugal Friends is available at your local bookstore or by calling 1 800-441-1456.

Copyright Frugal Family Network, Inc.

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