Dig deeper to take full advantage of post-Christmas sales

Did you survive the most stressful time of the year for shopping? Have you maxed out the credit cards? Or are you one of the few that made it through the season without too much stress? Hopefully you still have some money left because there are great sales in January.

Traditionally January is the time for ‘white sales’. You will see the ads in all the major department stores, but remember don’t just go to the regular racks for the advertised sales. Those are the racks for the ‘amateur’ sale shopper. The deeper into the department you go, the more likely you will find the deeply discounted items in some out of the way bin off in a corner. You may have to search a little harder, but it could be worth it. And often there may be another percentage discount taken off once you get to the cash register.

My tip is to read the signs and labels. Be prepared to do a little math in your head, and always double check at the cash for the exact price before you make the purchase. If your ‘understanding’ of the discount and the cashier’s don’t mesh, politely question it, and tell her what you thought it was. You actually might be able to clear up any misunderstanding.

Don’t be discouraged if you find, say, the perfect pillow sham, but there is only one. Remember these are deeply discounted sale items. When this happened to me last year, I bought the one sham, thinking I could always cut it apart and use plain fabric on the back to make two shams, or just use it for an accent pillow. The bargain price made it worthwhile. But before I remade the sham, I checked at another location of the store, and it had my second sham. Lucky me! While I was at the other location, I found the perfect dust ruffle for my bed at 80% off! Hey, I think I may have just talked myself into checking out some new bedding this month (much to my husband’s dismay).

Since it is also the beginning of the year, it might be a good time to think about all those monthly bills we pay and how we can reduce them. I get really upset about the amount of money I pay Bell every month in order to have telemarketers calling me during dinner. When I added up my monthly bill for home service – including call answer and 500 minutes of long distance to the United States and Canada – my bill was close to $50 a month.

As an experiment, I suspended my home service for six months which cost $50 for the duration. This allows me to keep my home phone number when I reconnect after the six-month experiment. To replace the home service, my husband I each have a cellphone with pay-as-you-go service. There is no contract, and no need for a monthly payment. We started off with $100 of air time which would expire after a year. We discovered that we like the text feature, so we each pay $5 a month in order to send and receive 250 texts – we never get close to that, but it  is worth the price, since with regular charges, 25 texts add up to $5. We use this a lot and will probably keep it. We also find that we don’t have to add much money for our calls since they are kept to a minimum.

I have been very happy with this new arrangement and am seriously considering cancelling our landline at the end of the six months. If I don’t recognize a number, I don’t have to answer it, and I don’t have to pay extra for this feature! So this has been my attempt to reduce some monthly bills.

Another bill that irritates me is cable and internet. I will be turning my attention to those soon.

Let’s start out the new year reassessing where our money goes and how to manage life without all those annoying expenses. Happy New Year!

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