5. Exchange Wisely
Stores know that you’ll be coming in to make exchanges–and they’ll try to capture your dollars while you’re there. So first check to see which online stores offer free returns, so you can avoid the mall or store altogether.
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If you have things that you need to return in person, make a list of what you want and need to keep focused as you pass those loud sale signs on the way to the register. And don’t forget to check out the clearance section to see if you can get more for less of your exchange dollars.
“If there’s not necessarily something you need right now, you might want to get a store credit to give yourself time to think about what you want,” Woroch says. “And don’t feel like you need to spend a gift card because it won’t expire for five years.” Of course, if you can get cash back, that’s ideal.
6. Stock Up on Holiday Items
Focus on getting things for next year’s holiday season, like decorations and wrapping paper–they’ll be priced to move … and quickly. Just make sure that you’re buying what you’ll definitely use next year–not because they happen to be “cheap” or a “bargain.” Instead, pick up twinkle lights to replace the ones that short-circuited or get decorations that weren’t quite in your budget this holiday.
7. Beware of Tricky Deals
“You’re going to see lots of buy-two-get-one-free deals,” Woroch says. “But it’s important to note that you’re likely to spend an extra $25 you wouldn’t have.” Translation: If you only want one sweater, but you end up paying for two to get the third free, you’ve overspent on merchandise you weren’t looking for in the first place.
Also watch out for those “Limited Time” or “Today Only” deals that will fill up your email inbox post holidays. They create a sense of urgency, potentially convincing you to spend on unwanted stuff that you really didn’t need (you got enough of that from Aunt Claire!) just to get a great deal.