Your After-Christmas Shopping Checklist

A few days after Christmas, Sarah and I will usually head out to the store to stock up on post-Christmas sales. It’s often easy to find many items at bargain-basement prices in the days after Christmas – items which can easily be saved until next year.

We usually make a list of things to look for (as we do virtually every time we go shopping). I thought it might be worthwhile to share that list with you, to help you if you’re out and about the next few days and looking to shave some dollars off of next year’s Christmas budget (and maybe even net a few dollars right now).

Christmas lights If you need to replace some lights – or even just intend to hang more lights outdoors, as we do next year – now is the time to pick up Christmas lights, as many department stores deeply discount such lights. Even better, many energy companies will offer you a rebate for buying LED Christmas lights, so save your receipts and check with your energy company.

Wrapping paper and supplies Wrapping paper is an obvious thing that many people look for at after Christmas sales, but you can often find many other supplies on deep discount as well, such as gift wrapping tape and ribbon.

Cards We usually make our own Christmas cards (so if we see blank cards, we might pick them up), but for many people, Christmas cards can be a spectacular bargain right now as many stores are offloading them.

Non-perishable gift baskets Unsold gift baskets often go at a tremendous discount and if you can find ones that are non-perishable (like bath supplies and such), they can easily be stored for a year and given the following December. Many people often exchange such gift baskets with professional acquaintances and such, so this can be a tremendous savings. If you know you’ll be giving gift baskets of this kind for Christmas 2010, get them now and save yourself some cash.

Electronics – but only if you’re patient The Consumer Electronics Show takes place early each January. During that show, electronics companies unveil their product lines for the coming year and usually eliminate some product lines to replace them. Quite often, retailers know what lines are going to be cut and start trimming the prices on those lines to clear space for the new lines to be unveiled at CES. Thus, late December through January are great times to pick up home electronics.

Of course, you have to be careful with this type of sale. For starters, do not be afraid of the word “clearance” or other such words. Almost always, there’s nothing at all wrong with the model – it’s just being replaced by a different model in the coming year – one HDTV being replaced with a very similar HDTV with a higher price, for example. Also, different stores tend to handle such clearances differently, so you may want to simply shop around for a while to look for what you need. Don’t lock yourself into a particular brand or model – keep your eyes open. Write down clearance models, then research them at home.

Exercise equipment These items are usually on sale due to the upcoming New Year (and related New Year’s resolutions), but there are often spectacular bargains on basic exercise equipment in the week between Christmas and New Years.

The absolute most important thing to remember when considering sales is to focus only on stuff you actually need or have a direct use for. Buying things you don’t really want merely because they’re on sale is a sure way to put yourself in a worse financial position. If you’re intending to replace a flaky television, for example, now is the time to do it – but if you’re thinking of dumping thousands into upgrading your television by 4″, consider other uses for your money.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

Loading Disqus Comments ...