The Best Time to Shop for Bargains

While the holiday season may be over, there’s no need to feel depressed. Now is the best time to shop for bargains! Here are a few tips on how you can take advantage of the year’s best sales. When to Shop. Sales begin promptly when stores open on December 26th. You’ll typically save 50% the day after Christmas, progressing to 75% the week after, then up to 90% in January. However, the longer you wait, the more picked over things will be.

Where to Shop. You’ll often find the best deals in the most out-of-the-way places. The key is to use your creativity when shopping. Where do you think most shoppers in your area will be? Try to go elsewhere.

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. Pre-packaged 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. Also skip items that, although on sale, are still over-priced or not useful. If you won't use it within the next six months, pass. 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.

For more savvy tips on shopping, check out:

Great Ways to Shop More and Spend Less The Savvy Guide to Coupons 5 Common Saving Strategies… That Can Lead to Overspending Shopping Triggers