Are You Really Saving Money on After-Christmas Sales?


yellow cash register with lots of dollar signs on the display and a long receipt

Black Friday and the after-Christmas sales are all the hype for folks who want a good deal. But are you actually getting one?

From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, Valentine’s Day and more, there are at least a handful of holidays each year that target consumers. When it comes to these made-up “shopping holidays,” particularly this time of year, many people are pretty dead set on indulging themselves in attempts to score a deal — to the tune of 85% of women and 88% of men. But even the biggest penny pinchers can see that some deals, even during and after the holiday season, are truly too good to be true.

With that in mind, when it comes to taking advantage of post-holiday sales events, how do you know if you’re really snagging a good one?

The best after-Christmas deals are the ones we pass up

Although it makes your post-holiday haul a little less exciting, trying to reign in your spontaneity is the key to success in sale scoring. With a little shopping prep, you can maximize your savings on post-Christmas sales and lower the chance that you’ll be among the 52% of shoppers who later regret the sale item they bought. 

Emilie Burke at Money Management International wrote:

“Many ‘limited time’ or ‘today only’ deals will be popping up. If they’re sales you don’t need, stay away.”

Morale of the story: Think twice before giving in to that clearance sale sign at your favorite department store or online at Overstock. You can save more by not spending at all.

App shopping support

Worried the price on that hot sale item isn’t as low as it will go? Try out Earny, a handy little app that will track your purchase for 60 days after you’ve made it to see if the price drops. If it does, Earny will get the difference refunded to you. 

The app does charge a 25% fee on the amount of your refund, but if that means getting $100 back on that new computer you bought at Best Buy, that’s still $75 you didn’t have without the app. Now imagine collecting a few dollars back on those video games you bought on Amazon or at Target, or an additional 10% back on that designer coat you bought at Neiman Marcus — the savings will slowly add up. 

If you plan on making some big purchases this post-holiday season, you might want to consider using Earny. It could send you back a good chunk of change if you’re lucky! 

Earny isn’t the only app out there that can help you score deals via your phone. In fact, we have a whole list of them available here.

Utilize Cash Back 

If you prefer to shop without ever leaving the comfort of your sweatpants, there are plenty of ways for you to save extra moolah. Internet browser application add-ons like Rakuten and Honey can help you save on all kinds of purchases, and you don’t even have to leave the house.

With Rakuten, formerly Ebates, you can earn cash back on your purchases, which will be sent to you quarterly as a check or PayPal deposit. Qualifying websites vary in the cash-back amounts they offer, but when you “open a shopping trip” on Rakuten, it tracks your purchases. Once your purchase is processed, if it qualifies for a rebate, you’ll see the cash-back amount added to your account. 

Honey, on the other hand, automatically searches for coupon codes you can use at checkout. It will apply every one it knows until it gets you the best price it can find. Even if you don’t get a coupon, you might earn “honey gold” for shopping, which Honey can later convert into gift cards. Maybe you can hang on to some of those for purchases you want to make next year?

Budget, budget, budget

Even if you’re feeling a little more jolly than usual because of all the holiday comfort foods, don’t forget that budgeting is still important. Your bills will still come calling. 

If you’re planning on spending some extra cash during the post-Christmas sales to snag some new clothes, home decor, or that new kitchen appliance, make sure you actually have the cash to spend. 

To prevent overspending, Time in the Market suggests combining your budget with a list of things you would consider buying during holiday sales. 

If you allow yourself to spend more here and make up for it throughout the rest of the year, then you’re fine. However, if you know that spending too much on holiday sales will have you panicking about credit card debt later in the year, you might need to be more strict about it.

In either case, it’s key that you track your spending closely. … It’s especially important during the holiday season.

Time in the Market emphasizes it’s easy to lose track of your budget if you aren’t tracking what you spend. The “out of sight, out of mind” mentality is strong. They recommend using a spreadsheet to compare what you spent on Christmas gifts versus what you budgeted.

Be strategic

If you are a practical sort of person, to you post-holiday shopping might mean stocking up on items you can use later on instead of indulging on that new TV you’ve had your eye on and really do not need. Sienna Beard at CheatSheet.com wrote that post-holiday shopping is a really great time to save money on certain kinds of things — especially if you are a planner. 

As soon as Dec. 26, holiday decor can drop dramatically in price, Beard wrote. So if those clearance items are on your shopping list, hitting the stores in the days after Christmas may be the best days to stock up on those items for next year. 

At the same time, when January rolls around, gym memberships and equipment often drop in price, TVs can be 20% off or more, and winter clothing starts dropping drastically, as well. If you’re strategic in your post-holiday shopping, you can save some big bucks.

Beware of BOGO 

It’s easy to get suckered into a good buy-one-get-one (BOGO) deal. If you’re a major impulse shopper, you may want to be extra careful around those during the holidays. Even the best BOGO offer can lead you to spend money you don’t need to spend (which in turn, may not be the best deal for you).

Burke also warns about these:

You’re likely to spend an additional $25 or more in order to get your deal. Shop only for what you need and leave the rest behind.

If the deal you see is for something you already need, great. Do a little bit of simple calculation to see how much you will save. If it’s significant enough to make a difference to you, go for it. Otherwise, put it back.

Gift yourself by gifting your bank account

Don’t go into the New Year broke because you made purchases from every sitewide sale that seemed appealing. While the annual sales after the holidays may help to justify whether or not we spurge after Christmas Day, the best holiday deals may be the ones that keep the money solely in your wallet instead of with the cashier at the checkout counter. 

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