2010-08-18 / Loose Ends

The countdown to Christmas has begun

Susan Nienow
This time of year starts off five months of angst for me – sales and bargains. How do I know what the best price is or when to buy? Last week I saw a package of four copper-colored glass Christmas balls in a discount store. I thought I jotted down a short list of holiday decorations I needed for the tree and house in my calendar for the month of September or maybe October, but it’s not there.

So should I snap up the ornaments or let them pass? If I buy them, then I will find that note, and it will say red ornaments, not copper. But if I don’t…I know I will be able to buy the copper ones other places, but these are less than a dollar apiece and exactly what I want...I think.

Also last week, I got a “birthday gift” from one of the shops I go to, and it’s only good until the end of the month. It’s for $25, and I bet I can’t find one thing I want for that amount or less. But I don’t want to waste it – it’s like real money. And the store is having a sale. So the “gift” will go even farther.

While I didn’t buy many school supplies during the tax-free weekend, I did stock up on pens and saved 35 cents on the tax. That savings was accidental, but it counts. Coupons are tricky and require good eyesight for the small print and higher math. If I buy $50 worth, then I save $10 except for the following brands and anything in fine jewelry and that has spandex in it. Then if I buy $150 worth of merchandise I save $50. But what if I buy $100 worth of merchandise? And do I really save the most if I spend the most?

This is where my other half points out that I can save it all if I stay home. Totally unfair. Some stores have cards I can buy that entitle me to a discount each time I make a purchase. A great idea if I shop there often enough. The first year I bought one at a bookstore and forgot I had it so that year it was a donation. The next year everyone got books for Christmas and birthdays, and the discount card was a good investment.

Last year I figured I broke even. I just bought another one in plenty of time to use it for Christmas and a few books for myself between now and then. I have taped a reminder to my credit card. It says, “Is this a book? If not, reconsider this purchase.”

The sale I like the most is the unexpected, like when I needed a pair of black pants and found just what I wanted on the clearance rack. The trouble with that kind of find is that they also had the pants in olive green and brown. I couldn’t pass up the deal.

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