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Post-holiday sales secrets

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

How to shop wisely

Post-holiday sales can be so tempting. Discounts are big, and the retailers are making a last ditch to boost their holiday sales numbers. It's so easy to get caught up in the frenzy! Believe it or not, there is a "right" way to take advantage of post holiday sales so you don't end up with things you don't need and will never use - or overspend.
How to shop wiselyWhile I generally avoid the malls after the holidays (I don't like the crowds), I've been known to surf a couple of favorite websites looking for deals. Some years I've ended up with some really good deals and smiled for months afterward - and occasionally I've made some ill-advised purchases. In an effort to avoid that from happening again, I've set some rules for myself.

Make a plan, make a list

I never shop with the intent to "see what is out there." I make a list. There are items I'm on the lookout for year round (certain items for the kids), and certain items we need for the house or yard. I make a list of those items before I leave the house or go near the computer. While I do let myself look at things not on the list, the list helps keep me focused, and helps avoid aimless spending.

Just because something is a great price doesn't make it a deal. If you wouldn't consider buying something at a higher price, think very hard before buying it now. A sweater you bought because of its great price but never wear is no deal at all. It's just a waste of money. This is the same philosophy I use when shopping at warehouse stores.

Set a budget

Blowing your budget just because things are on sale is still blowing your budget. Set a limit for what you can afford to spend on sale items, and - if possible - take cash and no credit cards when you enter the store. When you are out of cash, you are done.

Don't be afraid not to buy anything

Just because you go to the sales or browse the sale section of the website doesn't mean you have to buy something. You don't! Ask yourself some important questions:
  • Do I need this?
  • Am I buying because I feel like I should?
  • Can I afford it?

If there is any hesitation, step away. Walk down another aisle and click another link. If you come back five minutes later and still really want to make the purchase, perhaps it will be right for you. If, however, after five minutes, there is still any hesitation in your decision making, walk away for good.

Post-holiday sales can be lots of fun. But they can leave you with a retail hangover if you are not careful! Shopping carefully and wisely is worth it at all times, and especially at sales times.

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