Shop ‘til you don’t drop a lotta cash

All season long, retailers slash their prices until it seems like things just can’t get any better.  Then, the holiday shopping frenzy ceases and guess what?  That sweater you got the killer deal on just two weeks ago is now adorned with a clearance sticker boasting a fraction of the cost.

Welcome to the wonderful (and a times, woeful) winter deals. ‘Tis the season of deep discounts and semi-annual sales.  Stores are trying to rid themselves of cold-weather attire and remnants of jollier times to make room for shipments of all things bright, light and pastel.  But before you rush to treat yourself to the items Santa forgot to bring, keep these dos and don’ts in mind:

Don’t be fooled by the red sticker. Yes, it’s true that stores will do a complete overhaul of their merchandise post-holiday, but as the saying goes, the best things come to those who wait.  The deals will get better and better.  I’ve found the best time to buy winter apparel is mid-February; stores are so anxious to be out with the old and in with the new that they cut prices so steep it will make you sick that you even considered purchasing the same thing at full price just a few weeks ago.  The traditional big box retailers will offer discounts, on discounts, on discounts: 50% off then take an additional 50%!  The downside to holding off until February is that a lot of the good stuff goes early so if there’s something now that you must have, you may not want to wait around.

Do stock up on holiday décor.  When we close-in on the holiday, retailers begin to mark down the items that make our homes and spirits a bit more cheerful – lights, ornaments, stuffed snowmen and the works.  However, come Dec. 26, they turn into the Grinch and do whatever they can to push these items off the shelves.  While the pickens may be slim at this point, it’s still a great time to purchase holiday decorations now and put them away for next year.  Just yesterday, I picked up these adorable ornaments for 90% off at Walgreens; some for only 10 cents!

Don’t over indulge.  Trust me, I know how tempting it is to take advantage of good deals.  But keep in mind, just because you can…doesn’t mean you should.  If you’re planning to shop, go with an agenda.  Before you leave, take an (honest) inventory of what you do and don’t need and just like you do for groceries, make a list – it will keep you focused and more accountable.  This approach has helped me when I try to trick myself into believing I NEED to add another winter coat to the collection of 53 I already have (not to mention, I live in the South).
Do shop around.  You’re going to find some great deals this time of year at the big retailers but the question is, are they the best?  If you’ve got the time, shop around.  I’m a huge proponent of all things discount store: Ross, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx.  The reason why?  I’ve seen the big guys promote the same items for full MSRP that the discount stores have at a fraction of the cost more times than I can say.  Just this week, I came across this Jessica Simpson dress at Dillard’s for $70 (freshly marked down from $130).  The next day (yes, I went shopping at the same place two days in a row), when the store was touting a huge 50% discount on clearance, it was just $35!  That same dress?  I bought it at Ross for $19.99. The discount stores compete with one another as well.  I purchased a Christmas party dress for $29.99 at Ross and found the same exact one at T.J. Maxx for $39.99 (BTW, saw the SAME dress at Nordstrom for $158)!  This process may take a while, but I like to think about it as searching for gold.  When you find THAT deal, you’re golden!

And this, my friends, is why I will never give up shopping as a new year resolution.

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