Tips on getting the best shopping deals

AFTER-Christmas sales or a clearance sale is a great time to get some good deals, but you can also end up with a purchase disaster. Don’t just grab a newspaper ad and rush to your local consumer electronics retailer without arming yourself with useful knowledge and tools to get the most from your dollar.

Website www.thebalance.com reports steps on how to make the most of after-Christmas sales.

Shop ahead for upcoming occasions

Shopping ahead for next Christmas makes sense, but so does shopping ahead for other occasions. Use the after-Christmas sales to stock up on birthday presents, anniversary gifts, Mother’s Day/Father’s Day presents and end-of-the-year teacher’s gifts. Some ideas to consider:

* stocking stuffers can be used as party favors, in Easter baskets or as Valentine’s gifts for the kids;

* red candy, candles and decorations can be used for Valentine’s Day;

* green candy and decorations can be used for St. Patrick’s Day;

* solid-colored gift wrap can be used year-round;

* solid-coloured party supplies (plates, napkins, cups) can be used for birthdays and barbecues;

* gift sets can be repackaged (if they’re in holiday packaging) and given throughout the year.

Don’t overlook thrift stores

Thrift stores receive a lot of year-end donations from folks who are looking to grab a last-minute tax deduction, and that means there’s lots of new loot for thrift store shoppers to sift through. Stop in at your local thrift store to see what they have to offer. If you’re lucky, you may even find a sale!

Look past the packaging

Nuts, chocolate, cereal, cookies and many other foods get special packaging for the holidays — a selling point before Christmas, but not much of one after. Look for these items to get marked down quickly, and enjoy cheap eats throughout the year. Remember: it’s the packaging and not the food that’s expired.

Stock up on craft supplies

Do you make a lot of your own Christmas gifts? Then, use those after Christmas sales to stock up on holiday-themed ribbon, fabric and craft supplies.

Bare in mind: red craft supplies can also be used for Valentine’s Day and the Fourth of July, while green can be used for St. Patrick’s Day.

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