Soon enough, the holidays will have come and gone. You'll have given, you'll have received; it will then be time to cash in. The best deals fall between Christmas and the new year, so when you go to return those itchy yellow polka-dotted wool socks, get yourself something you'll really enjoy instead.
Top 5 Buys After the Holidaze
1. The Bubbly!
Champagne and fine wines tend to go on sale before New Year's, and are even further reduced afterward. Evidently, there will be even bigger savings this year. "The recession has been hard on the high-end winemaker," says Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart Magazine. "French wines that were going for $50 you can get for $20."
2. Sugar & Spice
If your vice is sugar, you're in luck: Baking ingredients are also marked down after the holidays. Freeman explains that stores have to cut prices on perishable items or risk losing all the value of their inventories. "It's a great time to stock up on chocolates, spices, flour, sugar, the basics," she says. Knowing that most folks don't want yet another reminder of seasonal cheer, Freeman reminds post-holiday shoppers that "chocolate may be colored green and red, but it tastes the same!"
Gadgets go down in price after the holiday shopping season. A reliable way to comparison shop is to log onto Consumer Reports, where you can evaluate prices of electronic items, whether hardware or software, and determine what's being overvalued. In January, most electronic retailers release new models, often debuting them at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in the first week of the year. Even companies like Apple that don't follow a set calendar for releasing new models offer savings on their website for refurbished devices. Make sure that whatever you purchase comes with a manufacturer's warranty, preferably one that doesn't expire in the next week.
It is better to give than to receive, and that saying holds true throughout out the year, not just during the holiday crunch. So stock up on gifts, such as spa treatments, restaurant gift certificates, winter clothes, cards, and even wrapping paper at post-holiday sales. It can save you money and time in the long run to have some simple gifts on hand for weddings, birthdays and dinner parties.
Most stores offer deals on their more "evergreen" products, although truly seasonal items, like wrapping paper covered in reindeer, will surely have a better mark-down price. Still, there's no need to be penny wise and pound foolish as a consumer. Retailers often offer discounts on items in certain colors associated with the holidays, even though wrapping paper in gold, green, blue, red, and silver can be used throughout the year.
The greatest time to buy a car is after the holidays, when dealerships need to make way for newer models. Consumer Reports offers excellent tips on how dealerships operate and how to negotiate with them. For instance, car salesmen are expected to meet certain monthly sales quotas; the beginning of the month, therefore, is when you're least likely to snag a deal. Holding off until the end of the month, when car salesmen are hungrier, is a good idea, but an even better option is to wait till the end of the year, when manufacturers are hoping to unload last year's models. (Edmunds.com is also an excellent resource on how to negotiate with car dealers.)
Online and Offline Shopping
If you're willing to sift through bins and racks for deals, you can find big discounts on small gifts and luxury items, like designer handbags at stores that are now considered "so last season." You can also find coupons online, both for in-store and online purchases. There are websites dedicated to Olympic shopletes, like Bargainist.com and Retailmenot.com. These sites aggregate coupons from popular stores so you can get even greater savings. Whether you shop online or off, it's always useful to do some research first to save time. After all, the present is a gift.