After-Christmas sales

If you have storage room it’s pretty well known at this point that now is the time to grab Christmas items and save them for next year. Wrapping paper, decorations, themed items like tablecloths and candles, etc. Stores don’t have storage like they used to, it’s more cost effective for them to clear things out at 50% or better than to box and ship them back.

We didn’t do a tree this year, we had a decorated fireplace mantle and I had the presents arranged in front of that. I prefer a real tree when I have a tree, and I just didn’t get one this year.

Check places that might not be your first choice for holiday discounts – I was in Rite Aid yesterday and even they had Christmas items, most were over 50% off, lots were 75% and 90% off.

Places that are already discounted, like Big Lots, Marshall’s, Dollar Tree, etc. will have even better prices. If you’re into holiday sweaters and themed pajamas, socks with Santa on them, reindeer-adorned scarves, etc. you will definitely want to see Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, Ross, and the outlet stores. These things will go quick because they were reasonably priced to begin with, and they store well and are now 50-90% off.

Watch the online sales from your favorite retail stores this coming up weekend. The last week of the year/first week of the year is a great time for people to use their Christmas money and gift cards, so retailers will be trying to get your attention. If you have a store you really like, such as Sears, Bath & Body Works, JC Penney, or any other mall-type store, sign up on their website online for alerts. You’ll usually get emails with clearance deals, coupon codes, and direct links to lower prices so you can spend your gift card money.

I missed out on a few deals this year that I had last year, but it was a timing thing. Last year, I had a great deal on Fresh Market gift cards that got me well into March at 25% off everything in the store. I also had Petco bonuses and gift cards that lasted two months for free because of bonus rewards I had taken advantage of at the end of the year. I’m bummed I missed out on those this time around, but I’ll just have to be better prepared and watch for them next year. It was a combination of holiday schedule, computer problems, hand injury, and influx of visitors so I didn’t check my email in time and respond when I had the chance.

However, I did get several $5 and $10 gift cards for several retailers for free from cashing in bonus points and rewards. So, I’ll at least have discounts on many of my purchases for the next month or two.

As an example, yesterday I was at Rite Aid and bought 4 large bottles of Listerine, two packages of Glide floss, four packages of peanut butter crackers, three bottles of Pantene shampoo, and a case of bottled water. I had $10 in coupons and paid $30 after coupons, and received $20 in rewards after the purchase good on the next purchase. That’s $58 worth of items that I actually need for $10. And, I had more than $30 in rewards points on my loyalty card for a purchase I made before Christmas, so actually none of that came out of my pocket.

Today I’m going to use the $20 in rewards points that’s on my card and get laundry detergent and toilet paper. I have coupons for those as well, I’ll get $31 worth of products for about $15 after coupons and get $10 in rewards points back. So, there will be $5 left over from yesterday’s rewards, plus $10 added today, and I’ll pay nothing out of pocket. That’s free toilet paper and laundry detergent and money left to get something else I need when I need it.

Here’s the math:

  • Initial group of items bought on Monday, regular price = $58
  • Store discounted prices and combination deals, actual price that showed up on the register with my loyalty card = $40
  • Presented $10 in coupons, total due = $30
  • Paid for items with existing rewards dollars, total out of my pocket = $0
  • At the end of the transaction, received rewards dollars based on those particular purchases = +$20
  • Current total in rewards dollars = $20 that can be used starting the next day.
  • Second day’s purchases, regular price = $31
  • Store discounted prices and combination deals, actual price that will show up on the register with my loyalty card = $19
  • Present $4 in coupons, total due = $15
  • Pay for items with existing rewards dollars, total out of my pocket = $0
  • At the end of the transaction, receive rewards dollars based on those particular purchases = +$10
  • New total rewards dollars, that can be used on a future purchase = $15
Who couldn’t use free toilet paper, laundry detergent, shampoo, snacks, water, floss, and mouthwash, and get paid to take them out of the store?
If you were driving down the street, and saw a big sign in front of Rite-Aid saying “Anything you need is free!”, that would get your attention. That’s the sign I see when I look at their sales flyer and my coupons.
It’s true that it’s not exactly free, it takes time and attention and effort. I have to keep track of my stockpile and analyze what I need (and I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years!), study the store flyers for the best deals, match up the current coupons, likely make more than one trip to get the best deal, possibly go to more than one store if one doesn’t have the inventory I need, and carefully do the math to get the best return. However, I recommend start with this. The basics. Toilet paper, laundry detergent, toothpaste, deodorant, all those things you have to have in the house and can’t live without and will buy anyway no matter what they cost. If you have limited time and resources, start with the basics.

 

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