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6 Holiday Items You Shouldn’t Pay Full Price For

By Matt Breed

Holiday shopping is fast approaching.Sale, sale, sale! Get used to hearing and seeing this for the next two months or so. But before you get sick of it, remember that you need to take advantage of the seasonal discounts that winter time brings. Even though you should try to save on anything you buy, there are six items above all else that you should not have to pay full price for this time of year:

1. Wrapping Paper

If you can’t find wrapping paper on sale, you just aren’t looking. Considering that you are either going to throw away or burn all of this right after the holidays, don’t you think you should spend as little as possible? As a rule, I don’t spend more than $1.50 on a fairly large roll of wrapping paper. I’m cheap, but I guess I’m not quite cheap enough to use newspaper, but I never say never!

Where to shop:

Most department stores have a very inexpensive wrapping paper selection, but do not count out specialty and discount stores like Michaels, Save-A-Lot, Party stores and even supermarkets.

2. Decorations

Decorations are one of the biggest sellers next to actual presents. This is another thing that often goes on sale before the holidays that people often overspend on. Either find them on sale, or buy them used. There’s nothing wrong with used decorations!

Where to shop:

If you have a family, make a day of it and just buy supplies from a craft store to make your own decorations. If not, inexpensive decorations can be found at department stores. If you are really looking to score, try PartyCheap, ChristmasDepot, or WholesaleMart.

Growing up in my house, decorations were something special. My brother, sister, and I would make paper rings with red and green construction paper and paste them all over the house. We would make popcorn strings with actual popcorn and strings. We used the same, handed-down decorations every year. The only new addition was the one personalized ornament that we each got a few weeks before Christmas. There is no need to buy new lights, bulbs, and other decorations each year. Reuse what you can, and be creative with the rest. It will also provide you with some lasting memories.

3. Party/Gathering Food

If you can not find a deal on holiday food and drinks, look harder! This is the best time of year to pay attention to sale fliers, and supermarket sales are easily among the best in the country.

Where to shop:

Compare locally to find the least expensive options. Many items are on sale simultaneously for the holidays, so finding the best prices should be pretty easy. Combine manufacturer coupons with store sales and the savings can become significant.

4. Toys

You can’t escape the challenge of having to choose the right children’s toys. You may not have your own children, but you still need to worry about your friends’ kids, your nieces, or nephews. This is the second most competitive market for holiday shopping, which benefits you, the consumer.

Where to shop:

Since so many establishments are vying for your business, the choice is yours. Look for sales, both online and locally to find the best prices. Tip: Don’t forget about utilizing some stores’ price-matching guarantees.

5. Electronics

If toys are the second most competitive market, you may have guessed that electronics is easily number one. Finding a great deal on electronics is both easy and hard. What I mean by that is, sales are everywhere. Just a quick look through the Sunday paper, or a visit to retailers like Amazon, Best Buy or Overstock will show you that it is easy to find sales. What makes it hard is finding out whether you are actually getting the best price. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has bought something, thinking he was getting a great deal, only to find the exact same item at a much better price soon after.

Where to shop:

For those who don’t want to deal with the hassle of crowds and cold weather, check out the best online stores for electronics. If you’re a “brick and mortar” kind of person and prefer to talk to a salesperson face to face, Best Buy, Target and hhgregg are best for customer service. If you do not care about talking to someone, Wal-Mart and K Mart may have what you are looking for at an awesome price.

6. Transportation

As long as you plan your holiday trips in advance, you can save big on transportation. If you are driving to your destination, plan routes that allow for stops to make it easier on your wallet. If flying, get your tickets early. The closer to your planned departure you push, the more expensive it will become. Here are some other tips to get cheap airfare tickets.

Where to shop:

If driving, use FreeTrip.com or TripCart.com to find attractions and accommodations along your route. If you are taking to the air, use a flight aggregator site like CheapFlights.com or Kayak.com.

Last Word

All of us spend during the holidays. But not all of us spend wisely. Be smart and tak advantage of the savings to be had during the holiday season. Looking out for these deals will make your holiday season and your wallet much jollier this year.

Do you have any other tips for saving money over the holidays?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Matt Breed
You are looking at Matthew Breed. He is a 30 year old sports nerd who lives in North Florida with his fiancee, Sarah. Originally in school for a Business degree that did not work out due to capricious youth and irresponsibility, he is currently "getting past" his Peter Pan syndrome and attends classes for a degree in Information Technology while working full time. His care for personal finance stems from a modest upbringing with fiscally responsible parents who highly value education and frown upon frivolity.

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