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The holiday season speaks retail to nearly every consumer, but the truth is we’re not all shopping for gifts and decorations, and we experience the season at different lifecycle stages, from different faith or cultural perspectives, and with different economic situations and goals. One thing in common is that most of us are doing a little “self-gifting” – the National Retail Federation research says that 60 percent of us now see those great sweaters on sale and buy them for ourselves – and we’ll each spend about $130 on our homes, attire or needed gadgets.
That’s not a bad thing, and if you’re looking for ways to save money, December may be the time. If you want to replace the inexpensive vacuum cleaner that died last month, or the drip coffee maker that’s been wheezing since August, small appliances are among the best items you can buy during the month, according to Consumer Reports. If you’ve put off buying things you need – or borrowed money for your holiday expenses with a little extra to spare – you can score on some smart sale-shopping for toasters, food processors, and other items on your list.
Clothing sales in December are everywhere, and include boots, mittens and other cold-weather gear you might want to “give” to yourself or the kids. Keep in mind that the discounts take an even deeper dive on December 26, and this year’s retail numbers so far are getting mixed reviews, so the price cuts you’d normally see at the end of the month may be even bigger this year. While some of this stuff isn’t very sexy – packages of new socks, replacement pillows and bathmats aren’t the stuff Santa’s wish list is normally made of – snagging a few deals might be.
There are some great self-gifting options for stuff that is on Santa’s list though. If you’ve been waiting to buy a new laptop, tablet or other mobile-device electronics, December delivers on the deals. That’s usually true of televisions too, although some retailers wait until after the holidays to run sales meant to draw in the Super Bowl Sunday crowd looking for a big screen.
Remember, stores have to make way for their next big thing and the cycle of seasonal products that come with the 2016 calendar. It’s a good time to check prices on tools – some of the best deals are usually in early summer, but there are plenty of sales now, and that’s also true for some outdoor items like barbecue grills and bicycles and toys. It’s hard to go wrong with toys at this time of year and they’re usually at the lowest prices you’ll find, so pick up a few toys too.
You may not give toys to yourself – OK, maybe you are – but this is one area where you can buy now and save later. Not all of your “extra” purchases will fall into the self-giving category, and it’s a great idea to buy a few things on sale and tuck them away for gifts you might give later in the year. Some people keep a few items on hand so that if they’re surprised by an invitation they didn’t plan for, or a gift they weren’t expecting –“Honey, it’s Bob and Millie from next door, with a bottle of wine!” – they have a generic, easy go-to option from their little store.
Another nice option is to buy your extras for Angel Tree or Adopt-a-Family programs, or scoop up scarves right after the holidays and donate them to nonprofits who care for the homeless.
So don’t be afraid to do a little self-gifting this year by taking advantage of holiday sales that work in your own life, and think ahead about the birthday gifts and celebrations you’ll see in the coming year. Those holiday sales can help people in your community who need it most too.